Special Edition: CMO Moves Duos Kurt Kane and Tony Rogers

Wendy’s and Sam’s Club Leveraging Social Media to Transcend the Expected

Chicken sandwiches, Cheetos, gazebos and movie recommendations. I knew from the second I planned to record with Kurt Kane, President and Chief Commercial Officer of Wendy’s, and Tony Rogers, Chief Member Officer of Sam’s Club, I was in for a wild ride.  And they did not disappoint. So what do these leaders of two incredible brands talk about when the entry point of social media is not always the road you stay on?

“The magic of [wholesale clubs] is discovery. Maybe you came in for a bag of Cheetos but you left with a barbecue grill or a gazebo for your backyard that you weren't even planning on. ” – Tony Rogers

“People really do think of Wendy as a character. And [on social media], Wendy is somebody to have a conversation with. People talk to us about hamburgers and chicken sandwiches and all of those things, but they also ask us to help them with their math homework and ask us what movie they should go see that night.” – Kurt Kane

Join us in this fabulous and fun conversation around social media and how to create healthy tension in your brand story while removing distracting friction. Also, don’t miss leadership tips from both Kurt and Tony on how to bring together disparate parts of the organization to turn concepts into reality. And, of course, how they themselves have both evolved from CMO to their new roles as President and Chief Member Officer, respectively. Who were their role models? What critical lessons have they learned along the way? What fuels their purpose, both personally and professionally? Listen in to find out!

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Heard on This Episode: Kurt and Tony's Tips for Success

Embrace Tension in Your Story

Any good story has tension at the center of it and while we're a big brand, we're not the biggest in our category, so we had the opportunity to really keep that challenger mindset and focus in on what makes us unique, different and special. By focusing on those things and really being overt about how we want it to attack those differences, we've been able to have a lot of tension and conflict in the story. The more we do it, the more positive attention we get as a brand, the more the brand continues to grow. -Kurt Kane

Find Your Social Balance

The magic of [wholesale clubs] is discovery. Maybe you came in for a bag of Cheetos but you left with a barbecue grill or a gazebo for your backyard that you weren't even planning on. Maybe that ends up being more shareable and compelling. But it's a challenge. The need to drive the business on a daily basis has a way of sending you back to the basics. So, we’re constantly having to remind ourselves, hang on, take a step back… That's the friction in our brand and social media really changes the way you think about what to prioritize. - Tony Rogers

Leverage Immediacy in Conversations

We work really hard on all of our typical broadcast communications and advertising. But the real power of social media is the immediacy – the fact that you can connect with people instantaneously, and most importantly have a conversation. So, for us, it was all about leveling the playing field. We're not going to spend as much as our competitors, even though we've got some really healthy media budgets... We need to out talk and out communicate them in the way that we connect with people and I think we found real conviction around it. - Kurt Kane

Melt Barriers To Find Reality

We can advertise a lot, we can talk about a lot of things, but nothing is real until it becomes real in the restaurant. So, being able to bring together the brand promise and have our marketing team very directly connected with our operations teams... to see those barriers melt away and have those teams working directly together around the big things that we're trying to accomplish is really unique. And sometimes it takes two years of planning to be able to launch a particular item, so we've got to be on top of all of it. - Kurt Kane

Use Empathy To Problem-Solve

Almost everything we work on is connected cross-functionally to multiple parts of the operation. There’s the need for somebody to be agile and have the ability to at least be conversant across different functions. Because if you come up only through one silo and you only know that silo, it becomes really difficult to apply your skillset to solve the company initiative. We know we need to get even tighter in connecting sales information to customer service information, and you need people who can have some empathy and sympathy for each other's jobs to solve these problems. – Tony Rogers

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