With average unit sales of $3.2 million, Outback's revenue grew 60% in 1993 to $271 million, placing the company eighth on Fortune's list of the 100 fastest-growing companies in 1993.
VP-Marketing Nancy Schneid, who signed on as the chain's original marketing director in 1990, says Outback's secret is the philosophy behind its tagline: "No rules. Just right."
Unlike higher-ticket steakhouses, Outback's casual, Australian-themed atmosphere makes customers feel "like they can wear blue jeans, like they don't have to use the right fork," Ms. Schneid says. Average check price at the dinner-only chain is $15, "higher than Ponderosa but lower than Morton's," she adds.
The Tampa, Fla.-based chain was founded in 1988, when movies such as "Crocodile Dundee" were fueling America's fascination with Australia.
Outback cultivates its Down Under image with Australian beer and mixed drinks, and menu items including Jackeroo Chops and Kookaburra Wings.
With a '93 ad budget of $13 million, offbeat ads from West Advertising, Tampa, feature model Rachel Hunter-herself a New Zealander, but hey, close enough.
TV spots feature scruffy-looking cowboys and bikers interacting with Ms. Hunter. One shows a man "dying" in the desert. When he thinks he sees his "sweetheart" in a mirage, Ms. Hunter says, "Sweetheart? You're not dying, you're dreaming."