Work Valued at $80 Million to $100 Million

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CHICAGO ( -- Red Lobster has chosen independent agency Richards Group of Dallas to handle its $80 million to $100 million advertising account, according to two executives close to the situation.

Red Lobster, part of Darden Restaurants, awarded the business following a review in which Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, New York, which also handles Darden's Olive Garden chain, and Havas' Euro RSCG Tatham Partners, Chicago, participated. Tatham had the account for six years.

Red Lobster and the agencies declined to comment.

Earlier this month, Tatham laid off at least 27 people, including its remaining Red Lobster team. The agency's New York unit took over the review but its work had not been advanced for testing. Then existing work from Chicago was put into the testing round, according to executives with knowledge of the situation.

Grey produced a music and food-focused campaign for the seafood chain's LobsterFest promotion last month, and February same-store sales were up 1%, enough to turn around a four-month slide. In December, same-store sale were down 12% to 13%.

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