Photo: Flickr, CC / A Gude
Arby’s is about to roll out a dramatic new relaunch of the entire company pegged to the Olympics in Q3, according to the company’s new chief marketing officer, Russ Klein.
Klein told us the relaunch will probably include:
- a new logo.
- a new advertising campaign
- redesigned restaurants
- a new, simplified menu
In the past, Arby’s has spent up to $100 million annually on advertising. (Its current campaign carries the tagline “Good mood food.”) Arby’s was spun off from Wendy’s and taken private by Roark Capital Group in July 2011. Klein joined in January 2012 following a seven-year stint as chief marketing officer at Burger King until late 2009.
“I don’t think it’s any secret that the company has struggled in sales performance in the past,” Klein said. “But people aren’t aware of the fact that Arby’s had five quarters of same-store sales growth.”
His new job, Klein said, is “to literally identify what will be the long-term brand positioning for Arby’s going forward. That involves an entirely new source of growth analysis” and a new target audience, a new creative brief for ad agency BBDO, and a new era of advertising. “Even though the ‘good mood food’ advertising has performed solidly I think it’s quite likely there will be a new campaign,” he said.
That campaign will debut around the Olympics in July. Right now, the company has completed the “arithmetic” stage of planning its relaunch and is transitioning from the drawing board to the real world. “By May I expect to be in production,” Klein said.
Klein will stick with BBDO for the campaign rather than hold a review for a new agency. (Often, new CMOs start their jobs by casting about for new shops.)
“Although some of my behaviour may indicate otherwise, I don’t think of myself as someone who feels the need to go chasing agencies just because I’m in a new post.” (Klein changed Burger King’s agency from Y&R to Crispin Porter + Bogusky six months into his job there.) “We help agencies be great by being great clients. I hope BBDO can be great for us.”
Klein also addressed his odd departure from BK in 2009. At the time, he left the company on sabbatical to spend time “simply ‘sharpening the sword.’ And the bigger the dragon waiting for me when I return, the better.” But then, months later, it was announced he would never return.
“I was really ready for a break,” he said. “It takes a human toll to be a CMO in any job. They average 22 months in the industry. At Burger King they average 14 months, was the statistic I heard. It’s intense. I spent almost seven years in that job. No one will ever come close to that again, but I’m not afraid to admit I was personally ready to tap out. I thought I could get away with just a brief respite but then I realised my heart wasn’t in it.”
At Arby’s, the relaunch will focus on “heavy users” — the 15 per cent of consumers who make up 54 per cent of its sales. When asked if that wasn’t the strategy he used at Burger King, where a relentless focus on young men alienated more casual eaters, Klein replied, “That sounds like the words of the people who are running the brand right now who can’t grow it. I can only point to six consecutive years of same-store sales growth at a five per cent CAGR.”
Ouch! Sounds like he’s got his breath back.
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