How did you make the leap from creative services to leading the entire communications department?
What started 14 years ago as a role to simply create promotional materials for limited time offers, grew to include all consumer facing communications over time, as did the brand’s need to have a tightly integrated voice across all channels. The organizational structure basically evolved to support the needs of a growing brand, and I’m extremely proud and honored to have been selected as the one to lead this critical function.
What was your favorite campaign to work on?
That’s a really tough one, because I’ve worked on a lot of great campaigns at Applebee’s, but the one that stands out for me in recent years is “Lunch Decoy.” We had an interesting business challenge in that we needed to drive awareness of our lunch daypart and start driving traffic in that time period to provide a business case that it was worth a dedicated investment. There was almost no budget (since we hadn’t yet made the case for it), and due to some unique circumstances on timing, the campaign had to be run ahead of the launch of new product news. To complicate matters, all of our competitors were on the air with lunch messaging as well. We knew we needed an idea that would break through in a unique way, while creating interest in our current products and value proposition. So in partnership with the agency, The Lunch Decoy was born, the tool we created to allow you the ability to sneak out for a great lunch, without anyone ever knowing you were gone. Not only did we drive our lunch business and make the case, we were able to generate a lot of buzz with our consumers – and sold out of Lunch Decoys in just two weeks time! It was a ton of fun to work on.
How has the way Applebee’s communicates with customers changed over the past 14 years? Where do you see customer communication going in the future?
I think it’s changed the way it’s changed for most brands, evolving from predominantly broadcasting mass messages, to much more refined and targeted communications more customized to the channel. In the future, I see customer communication being almost completely customized to the end user to reflect their very personal preferences and behaviors – in fact, taking these behaviors and using them to predict future purchasing needs and marketing to consumers about things they may not even know they need just yet.
What are your three top social media tools?
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I love Instagram because it captures and shares an experience in a way that’s difficult to do in other channels. I love Facebook because it facilitates the opportunity to create real relationships with our followers, and Twitter is great for it’s ability to scale word of mouth extremely efficiently and effectively.
Outside of Applebee’s what is one of your favorite social media / digital marketing campaigns?
An all time favorite would have to be Burger King’s Subservient Chicken – a classic.
Extremely recently, I’d say I’m pretty impressed by Taco Bell’s “#OnlyintheApp campaign to drive online ordering sales. Very clever…