Hector Munoz knows quick-service restaurants (QSRs), having worked in the space for more than 25 years.
Munoz rose through the ranks at Burger King, then spent six years as CMO of Popeye’s Chicken. In February 2017, he became CMO at Church’s Chicken, which launched a brand campaign called “Here’s the Deal” on Friday.
“If we were to reinject some life into this brand, we needed to talk with our consumers,” Munoz said about the campaign’s conception.
Church’s is undergoing a major reimaging, Munoz said, updating roughly 250 restaurants a year. And with that reimaging comes a new marketing message.
“We worked with a first-class agency, JWT out of Atlanta, and over a 45-day period we talked to about 4,500 consumers to understand their perceptions of Church’s brand and QSRs. They’re looking for QSR brands to be authentic and true to itself.”
As such, Church’s messaging is infused with four key points for the restaurant: choice, variety, abundance and value.
But Church’s reinvention will have to go beyond the messaging – and into the messaging medium itself.
Munoz spoke with AdExchanger about digital transformation, working with franchises and agency collaboration.
AdExchanger: What’s the biggest difference being CMO at Popeye’s compared to Church’s Chicken?
HECTOR MUNOZ: Church’s Chicken is a local brand, a regional brand – not a national brand. We’re not tied to one national message, meaning we have the ability to have flexible offerings by DMA and region.
Popeye’s is a national brand, so every market across the US had to honor the national promotion at the national price point. There are positives and negatives to that, but we don’t have that constraint at Church’s, which we think is a competitive advantage.
Is the new spot for “Here’s the Deal” a national message or is it heavily localized?
It’s a little of both. It’s our national message that’s going to be advertised at a local level traditionally, but it’ll be advertised nationally nontraditionally, meaning through social channels.
Which channels are most important in terms of driving foot traffic and sales?
It’s been through Facebook and in-store visitation efforts. This has proven to deliver a very respectable ROI and it’s something our franchisees want to participate in more. We’re doing experimentation like many other brands, looking at other channels to explore, whether it’s social or different forms of email and SMS text.
How do you determine foot traffic from Facebook?
It’s a simple math calculation. Facebook knows the consumers who click and are within a 10-foot vicinity of our restaurant.
How do you adapt to Facebook’s changes, like its recent news feed change?
There have been a lot of changes over the last year, and there will be more in the years to come. From a marketing standpoint, we haven’t seen any material impact.
Are there other channels that seem promising?
Instead of experimenting with one channel, we look to experiment with various channels. We want to see how they complement each other. If we get a message on social, where do we direct our consumers so we can start a longer-term one-on-one relationship?
What sort of data would you like that you’re not currently getting?
There are two components. There’s the branding component, which is to develop that longer-term relationship with the consumer. And then there’s the short-term benefit, which is understanding the immediate transaction and sale. If there’s some way to quantify the value of both, that would be beneficial.
How do you coordinate your local strategy with your national strategy?
We have a pretty strong agency roster. There’s our agency of record, JWT in Atlanta, BFG handles our digital social content and our media agency, Levenson, is out of Dallas. They work in a collaborative fashion to take the national strategy and customize it at the local level.
What’s the biggest marketing opportunity in 2018?
The biggest opportunity is how we can we make nontraditional media play an even bigger role in our overall media mix. I saw a data point yesterday that digital ad spend has surpassed traditional ad spend. I’m not saying we should do that at the local level, because we’re not at that life stage. But there’s an opportunity to drive awareness by focusing on the medium more than traditional. Frankly, we have 50% of our market that can’t afford traditional media so it’s important we step up nontraditional offerings to bring awareness.
What’s the ideal proportion?
For our brand, the right proportion would probably be around 30% nontraditional, 70% traditional. I don’t know if that aligns with industry standards, but for our brand today, that would be the right approach.
How do you get there?
It’s an education process with our franchisees and operators. It’s something we started a few years back, and we’re starting to get some momentum. It just takes persistence and communication. And it always takes a business case, which we’ve been formulating. That’s why it’s so important for us to experiment, so we can get these data points to get the franchisee and operators to commit to spend, whether it’s within the current budget or incremental investment.
What message has been most effective getting franchisees to increase digital spend?
In our mature business model, there are some people who aren’t as accustomed to these channels. They just want to see the ROI and don’t understand the other benefits participating in digital or social.
But they understand it, even though they may not be avid users.
If we continue to present business cases to them, that makes it a lot more tangible to understand what these efforts represent as far as people in their restaurant.
How has marketing changed over the years you’ve worked in the industry?
It’s more aggressive and more competitive than ever before. There’s an oversaturation of restaurants. Restaurants are being built faster than people are being born. I do see that correcting itself, which will help.
Right now, it’s really more through nontraditional channels – so off-premise channels. Sixty years ago, it was the carhop. Thirty years ago, it was the invention of the drive-through. Today, it’s the mobile phone.
Waze has been making efforts to reach out to QSRs. Have you participated in those opportunities?
We’ve done some explorations with Waze. It’s something we’re looking to do. I know other QSR brands are heavy in a partnership with Waze. It’s another avenue we’re looking to explore to see if there’s a real return on investment.