Q&A with Pizza Patrón's Andrew Gamm

Q&A with Pizza Patrón's Andrew Gamm

Food & Drink

Q&A with Pizza Patrón's Andrew Gamm

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FoodChannelPro

As brand director for Pizza Patrón, Andrew Gamm does everything from rolling out new products to designing pizza boxes. His marketing experience includes developing complete branding solutions and growth strategies for startup concepts as well as Fortune 500 companies. Gamm’s expertise includes developing and executing all advertising, marketing, public relations, business development, market research, competitive intelligence, retail pricing, new product launches, store design, media plans, budgets and total asset management.

Gamm has more than 17 years experience in branding and design and has held several positions including senior production designer and creative director. He has held the position of brand director of Pizza Patrón since 2003 and also is credited with creating the original restaurant designs and comprehensive branding for the nation’s number one wing chain, Wingstop.

How do you see your role within the Pizza Patrón structure?
I’ve known Antonio Swad, the company’s founder, for more than 20 years. I joined Pizza Patrón full-time in 2003 when we opened the corporate office to begin franchising the concept. As brand director, all of the marketing, advertising, public relations, store imaging and menu systems are my responsibility. Our model for growth is franchise distribution which creates an interesting dynamic that requires a balance of bold leadership and reasoned diplomacy. My job is to preserve our brand image while staying flexible enough to change and evolve as the market dictates. At the end of the day, my role is to evangelize everyone who has ears to hear with the unique Pizza Patrón message, especially our partners and team members.

How has the marketing department at Pizza Patrón evolved?
Our marketing department has grown in many significant ways since it started in 2003. In the beginning, our marketing strategy was limited to very simple store-based initiatives like fliers, shaker-boards and door hangers. Now, we have a national marketing calendar that includes co-branded promotions with companies like Pepsi, Warner Home Video and St. Jude Hospital. Our current executions may include in-store POP, direct mail, outdoor, email blasts, social network tie-ins, web, radio and TV. We also work closely with our Franchise Advisory Council, an elected group of franchise representatives, to develop and create all of our marketing initiatives.

What is your philosophy on marketing?
Today, marketing is definitely a two-way proposition. It is no longer enough to just communicate your brand’s unique position and product benefits. You have to identify customer needs and be willing to develop new products or processes to satisfy those needs. Market conditions can change very quickly, and for companies to thrive, they must be predisposed to a corporate climate of change.

What are you most proud of when it comes to your record at Pizza Patrón?
I am most proud of the fact that since 2003, we have gone from four stores and virtual anonymity to one hundred stores with international brand recognition.

How do you keep up with the huge velocity that goes along with social networks and the like?
Part of keeping up comes from working in an entrepreneurial environment that embraces constant evolution. The other part is not becoming overwhelmed by the immediacy of new social communication media. Social networks are a great place to highlight what your company is doing in the community.

You even design the pizza boxes at Pizza Patrón? Isn’t that a bit unusual?
Designing the pizza boxes is not unusual for me at all. Boxes are an important part of the pizza eating ritual for customers so they will always stay high on my priority list.

Where do you get your best ideas?
Ideas are everywhere and can be triggered by just about anything, the key is having your receptors up so you don’t miss them. My very best ideas have been collaborative in nature, and usually the result of debate or deliberation with Antonio — we work very well together.

What are your marketing goals for the chain?
Over the next couple of years, we want to take our marketing to the next level. We really want to get to know our customers better and improve the impact of every dollar we spend on advertising. Although the complexity of executing our promotions has increased dramatically over the past couple of years, having a national calendar in place for the first time has created much needed stability in our system. No matter what approach we take, one thing is certain: we will be concentrating hard on increasing same-store sales figures in every restaurant across the country.

Do you have any tips for marketers just coming into the restaurant industry?
If you are new to the industry, open your eyes and ears. Be willing to listen to those who work or eat in the restaurants every day. Value the input that operators, team members and customers provide, it can be a lifeline to measurable success in your efforts.

As restaurant marketers move along in their careers what do you think is the best way to stay fresh and continually able to create great products and services?
To stay fresh and relevant, your attitude must be in ‘student’ mode all the time. Get out and see what the competition is doing, as a matter of fact, see what everyone is doing. Great ideas can be sparked from the most unlikely places. The QSR segment has evolved dramatically over the past few decades, and customers continue to demand better food, better environments and quicker service. If history is any indication, there will be no shortage of work for talented and hungry marketers in the coming years.

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