In this edition of Marketer of the Week, Ignite Visibility spotlights Rita Patel, CMO of Buffalo Wild Wings.
Ignite Visibility applauds her and the Buffalo Wild Wings team for innovative marketing in the midst of challenging times for the casual dining industry.
For example, the company recently launched a “season tickets” promo to Cleveland Browns fans. That’s a clever ploy designed to appeal to people locked out of NFL stadiums due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Customers who buy the “season tickets” package secure four seats in a seating area known as the “Dawg Pound” (a reference to the Browns’ raucous cheer section at FirstEnergy Stadium).
The promo gives fans the option to enjoy the games in a sports bar-like atmosphere among other like-minded folks while chowing down on some wings and enjoying a good brew.
Moreover, Buffalo Wild Wings is still expanding. Yes, even this year.
The company recently announced plans to open a new restaurant in Albertville, Alabama.
All in all, the outlook is positive for BWW. And it’s about to get better.
How would you like to take on the role of a restaurant chain’s Chief Marketing Officer in the middle of a pandemic? That’s the challenge that Rita Patel just accepted.
About a month ago, Inspire Brands named Patel as CMO of its Buffalo Wild Wings brand. She assumed the role effective September 14.
Patel has got her work cut out for her. But she’s also prepared for the new position.
A Long History in Marketing
According to LinkedIn, Patel’s history in marketing dates back to at least 2001, when she was an Associate Marketing Manager at Wrigley.
She spent six years with the company, moving up the corporate ladder along the way.
Patel’s adventures with Wrigley took her all the way to Barcelona, Spain, where she was part of the marketing and product development team.
After her stint at Wrigley, Patel moved on to MillerCoors. There, she started as a Senior Associate Marketing Manager and advanced to New Products Marketing Director.
During her six-year tenure with that company, she helped launch the Peroni beer brand in Australia.
Millions of Aussies are undoubtedly appreciative of her efforts there as they can now put aside the Foster’s and enjoy the correct kind of beer with a delicious pasta dinner.
And here’s another notch in Patel’s belt: she oversaw brand strategy and equity for Coors Light when it buzzed past the competition to the #2 spot in market share.
As if that wasn’t enough, Patel moved on to Target as Veep of Marketing for Grocery, Multicultural, Marketing Planning, and Corporate Social Responsibility.
A long title. A tough job.
Still, she excelled. While there, Patel launched the Good & Gather and Everspring brands. According to her LinkedIn profile, she achieved success “by building a new capability for the organization leveraging consumer insights and a strong understanding of brand purpose.”
Here’s what else Patel says about herself: “With drive and an empathetic leadership style, I motivate high performing teams to deliver transformational results. Diversity of thought, integrity and purpose are my guiding values. Along with having worked on major marketing campaigns both domestically and abroad, family, community and culture influence my thinking.”
So she’s not only good at marketing consumer packaged goods, she’s also good at marketing herself.
A Job Opening
In June of this year, Buffalo Wild Wings CMO Seth Freeman stepped down from his position.
“Seth departed Buffalo Wild Wings this past month, and we thank him for the great passion he brought to the brand every day and for his leadership over the past two years,” said Lyle Tick, president of Buffalo Wild Wings. “The process for hiring a new CMO has begun, and we will share an update when a selection is made.”
That process led the company to Rita Patel.
BWW needed someone who could promote its brand in the midst of lockdowns and social distancing. Company leaders also sought someone who could make the company appeal to casual diners in the era of “the new normal.”
Tick appreciated Patel for her innovative and strategic approach to building brands. He also liked her ability to engage with consumers and get results.
“Her unique experiences in consumer marketing for a variety of well-known global brands makes her a natural fit for fan-favorite Buffalo Wild Wings,” he said in a press release.
And now Patel will report directly to Tick. She’ll oversee advertising, digital innovation, menu development, and brand experience.
Where to From Here?
So where will Patel take the company? I’m not sure, but I’m looking forward to finding out.
Her predecessor, Seth Freeman, opted for a more aggressive approach to digital marketing. He especially liked using social media channels to build the brand.
That helped spur revival for the chain. As did the buy-one, get-one-free deals.
Additionally, the company also partnered with online fantasy sports site DraftKings in an ad campaign that offered customers fitness trackers while watching college football on New Year’s Day.
Freeman joined BWW just six months after Inspire Brands acquired the company in a $3 billion deal. There was no reason given for his departure.
And now it’s up to Patel to pick up where he left off.
Undoubtedly, she’ll use the same creativity and energy she’s put into her other projects to boost the BWW brand in the midst of all the challenges that 2020 can throw at her.
One thing’s for sure: Rita is ready.