Outback Steakhouse Owner Bloomin' Brands Reviews Media Agency Business

Bloomin' Spent $149.6 Million on Measured Media in the U.S. in 2013

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Bloomin' CMO Michael Kappitt
Bloomin' CMO Michael Kappitt

Outback Steakhouse parent Bloomin' Brands is conducting a review for its media agency business, according to people familiar with the matter.

Bloomin', which owns Aussie-themed casual-dining chain Outback, Bonefish Grill, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Roy's, spent $149.6 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2013, according to Kantar Media. Outback accounted for the bulk of the spending.

The Tampa, Fla.-based company tapped incumbent Carat in late 2007. A year earlier, Bain Capital bought the company, then known as OSI Restaurant Partners, for over $3 billion. Bloomin' Brands went public in 2012.

Carat referred calls to the client.

"The media planning and buying for our portfolio has been under the great care of Carat since 2007," a Bloomin' Brands spokeswoman said in an email. "After seven years, we are conducting an agency review, a common practice after this significant period of time. Carat understands we have a responsibility to our brands to conduct this exercise and is participating in the review. The agency was named Partner of the Year in 2011."

Outback works with Deutsch NY, and Bonefish recently named Project Worldwide's Pitch its creative agency. Pitch is perhaps best known for its recent work with Burger King.

Michael Kappitt, senior VP-global chief marketing officer of Bloomin' Brands, is also known for his time at Burger King, where he was CMO of North America before assuming the CMO role at Outback Steakhouse. He was promoted to CMO of Bloomin' Brands late last year.

To increase its market share, Mr. Kappitt told Ad Age in late 2013 that Outback has focused on price promotion, but in the last five years it has made a commitment to limited-time offers. "Maybe six or seven years ago you had the luxury of doing more brand advertising, but we don't have that luxury anymore," he said at the time. "If we're going to spend money [on advertising], we have to drive traffic. We're very retail-oriented. We think like a brand but we act like a retailer."

Romance is at the heart of Outback's more recent marketing efforts to boost dinner sales, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The chain is using promotions to encourage couples to visit for date night, the magazine reported. Outback also paid for a study in which over half of respondents said they needed at least one date night monthly "to keep the spark alive," Businessweek said. A similar proportion couldn't remember the last time that happened.

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