Smashburger’s (Unverified) CMO Has Harsh Words for Agency Haters

By Patrick Coffee 

Earlier this week, Minneapolis agency mono announced a big account win: rising Boulder-based “fast casual” chain Smashburger, or “The Starbucks of Burgers.

The review originally involved a dozen agencies including local shop Grenadier. According to the Denver Egotist, the account had “bounced among a number of Denver agencies over the last few years,” and mono is the chain’s first AOR not located in its home state of Colorado.

Some readers took issue with that fact, and the client’s CMO Josh Kern (allegedly) fought back…in the comments, of course.


Thoughts from readers:

“Don’t let the client anywhere near the concept.”

“Assign your most junior team since the client is going to ruin everything.”

“…support this homegrown brand that ruined our concepts, fired us and then moved their ad business out-of-state.”

Kern, who credited mono with “the ability to help us tell the story of the brand as the new way to eat a burger” in the press release, then (again, allegedly) jumped in to defend the decision against these ad nativists, writing:

“Way to stay classy “anonymous” Denver Egotist followers. From the client perspective and speaking from experience, advertising in the restaurant space is not for the faint of heart. I had no idea of the venom around our brand and certainly I would hope that people living in Colorado would support a homegrown brand, most of all the creative people in Colorado. The agency talent in Colorado is spectacular and as a person working in the marketing space I wish every agency the best of luck. By the way we give free burger coupons not BOGO’s.”

The argument kept going:

“I’m really sorry you feel that way “anonymous”. If you’re genuinely offended, just call my office for a pack of free burger coupons and a signed lock of Tom’s chest hair.”

The Tom in question would be company founder Tom Ryan, seen here serving a not-burger for Thanksgiving in a 2013 image from Cyrus McCrimmon of The Denver Post.

Tom Ryan who started Smashburger prepares his Thanksgiving classics at his home

Was this commentor the real Kern? We can’t confirm at the moment, but his passion does seem real — as does Ryan’s chest hair.