Lowe Wins $80 Million Outback Steakhouse Creative

Account Was With Kaplan Thaler

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe, New York, has scored creative duties on Outback Steakhouse's $80 million advertising account after a review, according to executives familiar with the matter.

The Aussie-themed casual-dining chain, whose creative agency has been Publicis Groupe's Kaplan Thaler Group, placed the business into review in August. Select Resources International, Santa Monica, Calif., oversaw the pitch.

Lowe, New York, Chairman Mark Wnek confirmed the win, while a representative for OSI Restaurant Partners, Outback's parent, did not immediately respond to inquiries.

Lowe triumphed over four other finalists competing for the business: the incumbent, which was invited to defend; WPP Group agencies Ogilvy & Mather and Y&R; and independent shop McKinney, executives familiar with the matter said.

Tampa, Fla.-based OSI, which is also the parent of chains Bonefish Grill, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Roy's Hawaiian and Cheeseburger in Paradise, last year spent more than $100 million in U.S. measured-media spending, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Of that, $82.3 million was devoted to the Outback chain.

The company has hit upon hard times financially. For the first six months of 2008, OSI posted a $186 million loss, compared with an $18 million profit in the prior-year period.
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