Red Robin picks Coyne as AOR, replacing Linhart

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, CO: Restaurant chain Red Robin Gourmet Burgers has selected Coyne PR as AOR after an RFP involving a dozen agencies.

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, CO: Restaurant chain Red Robin Gourmet Burgers has selected Coyne PR as AOR after an RFP involving a dozen agencies.

Most of the 12 agencies the company reviewed “were around the same size and capability as Coyne,” and the final round came down to four firms, said Kevin Caulfield, senior director of communications at Red Robin. He declined to name the other finalists.

“Our goal is to help tell the Red Robin story of great quality food, a great environment, and take this story to places they haven't been,” said Tom Coyne, CEO of Coyne PR.

Linhart Public Relations, Red Robin's incumbent agency for more than 10 years, did not participate in the review, Caulfield added.

“Linhart Public Relations is proud of our long-standing relationship with Red Robin,” said Sharon Linhart, founder and managing partner of the agency. “It was gratifying to help build that brand since 1998. We wish them well as they continue their evolution.”

Caulfield said Red Robin's management team began the review because it recognized that the company needed to “elevate the brand profile and move it to a must-mentioned level of prominence within the casual dining and better-burger segments.”

“What we were looking for was a strategically proactive PR agency with the intellectual depth, the campaign track record, and major market connections that support our integrated brand-reenergizing efforts,” he said.

The restaurant chain's management team has seen many changes in the past two years. CEO Steve Carley joined the company in September 2010, and its CMO Denny Post came onboard nine months ago. CFO Stuart Brown joined the team last August.

Red Robin's first-quarter 2012 profit grew 21% year-over-year, although it said fewer customers visited its restaurants during the period.

While Coyne is also AOR for fast-food giant Burger King, Caulfield said the relationship poses no conflict for Red Robin.

“It was a plus in the sense that it demonstrates that they have restaurant and category experience,” he said. “That was something that we thought was certainly of some value.”

“With all of our clients, we are completely open and we discuss all of our category opportunities. We spoke to the team at Red Robin and at our other restaurant clients just to make sure everyone is aware,” said Coyne. “We are very excited moving forward, and there will be different teams working on both.”

Coyne's primary responsibilities will include developing a fully-integrated PR campaign, providing strategic counsel to the brand, handling media relations and PR efforts, and supporting Red Robin's internal social media team, said Caulfield.

He added that the agency will help Red Robin revamp the brand “without losing or alienating families that continue to be a significant portion” of its business.

Red Robin, which was founded in 1969, has 460 restaurants in more than 40 states in the US and Canada.

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