Red Lobster's rebranding campaign touts freshness

ORLANDO, FL: Red Lobster, the 40-year-old seafood restaurant chain, is in the second phase of a three-stage rebranding effort, emphasizing the freshness of its fare and the culinary expertise of its chefs.

ORLANDO, FL: Red Lobster, the 40-year-old seafood restaurant chain, is in the second phase of a three-stage rebranding effort, emphasizing the freshness of its fare and the culinary expertise of its chefs.

The initiative looks to target existing customers and bring back those that have drifted away.

"We know that freshness is the most important factor that our guests use to determine the quality of a seafood restaurant," said Wendy Spiraduso, communications director for Red Lobster. "In the past, we didn't get a lot of credit for freshness."

The restaurant chain has introduced daily fresh fish menus and a new tagline - "Come see what's fresh today" - to communicate that message.

Michael LaDuke, the chain's new senior executive chef, has become an important part of the communications effort, on which Red Lobster is working with GCI Group, its AOR.

Chef LaDuke also participated in an SMT on June 29 from a Coast Guard cutter in Boston Harbor that has received nearly 1 billion media impressions to date. Additionally, he is featured on the company's new Web site, Redlobster.com, speaking directly with consumers via e-mail and the Chef's Blog.

Also on the site is the American Seafood Adventure, recipes inspired by different parts of the country and showcasing a variety of flavors, like maple-glazed salmon and shrimp from the Pacific Northwest.

"We know that seafood consumption is going up," said Spiraduso. "But it's mysterious to people. The chefs can demystify it. It's another opportunity to talk with our consumers."

The third phase of the rebranding will focus on quicker, more sustainable growth.

"It's a phased-in strategy to maximize the potential of the brand," she added. "Red Lobster introduced everyday people to seafood. We want to give people a new reason to come in."

GCI is also AOR for the other Darden Restaurant brands, including Olive Garden and Bahama Breeze, a chain of Caribbean restaurants.

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