Case Study: Red Lobster's title color helps heat up the summer in Tampa

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It was a red-letter summer in Florida for Red Lobster, which emblazoned its brand as "The new Red" with an integrated campaign in 14 Tampa area restaurants.

The push, launched in April via Euro RSCG Tatham Sales Machine, Chicago, is part of the Darden Restaurants seafood chain's aim "to change our brand image on a market by market basis," said Ken Mills, VP-marketing at Red Lobster. A Dallas rollout of the campaign is imminent.

The goal was to increase business by luring back lapsed customers and narrowing the target demographic. "We're fishing for `MAHI,' " an acronym for middle-age, higher-income households, Mr. Mills said.

A 500,000-newspaper polybag drop, produced in conjunction with the Sunflower Group, Overland Park, Kan., showcased the "New Red" image and included a coupon for a free appetizer and dessert. The drop supplemented local radio and outdoor ads.

The aim was to create awareness and drive consumers to the restaurants. A revamp of the total Red Lobster atmosphere also offered point-of-purchase materials, napkin rings and bar coasters playing on the "red" theme, with phrases such as "Thirst conqueRED" and "When was the last time you happy houRED?"

Red Lobster's average weekly guest count in Tampa increased 5% to 10%, exceeding initial projections by 40%, Mr. Mills said. The number of customers purchasing alcoholic beverages also rose 5% to 10%.

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