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Stevi B's names Allyson K. Smith CMO

Pizza-buffet chain Stevi B’s said it has hired Arby's veteran Allyson K. Smith to serve as chief marketing officer.

In her new position, Smith will lead Stevi B’s brand management, consumer promotions, national and local-store marketing, advertising, media, and systemwide communications. Smith, who has more than 11 years of marketing experience in foodservice, comes to the 37-unit chain from Arby’s Restaurant Group, where she most recently was vice president of national and brand marketing.

Smith said Stevi B’s would be well-positioned for growth in the near term due to its financial backing — Atlanta-based private-equity firm Argonne Capital acquired the brand in February 2008 — and franchise system. She said her job as CMO would be to collaborate with franchisees to incorporate their ideas as much as she leads them with messaging and operations programs from corporate.

“As a franchisor, our role is to set brand strategies and provide the system with a platform to activate around,” Smith said. “The key will be consistency, getting programs that work and creating a platform everyone can rally around. The Arby’s system also was heavily franchised, and I gained experience there selling programs into the system that works for both the brand and franchisees.”

Exploring new local-store marketing programs and a possible agency review are among the first things on her agenda, Smith said.

While its main pizza-buffet competitor, CiCi's, centers its advertising around the $5 price point — and while Pizza Hut, Domino’s and Papa John’s have called out $10 deals and other prices in their recent advertising — Stevi B’s marketing efforts will concentrate on total value, comprising food quality and customer service, she said.

Stevi B’s president Matthew Loney said in a statement that Smith brings the “ideal set of experience” to the brand.

“She understands what it means to work with a national concept made up of multiunit, multiconcept and single-store franchisees,” Loney said. “She is familiar with the marketing cooperative model and has impressive insight into the entire marketing mix. It says a great deal about the potential of our brand to secure a talent like Allyson, and it couldn’t come at a better time. We have exciting work in progress and anticipate finishing strong in 2010.”

Stevi B’s, which debuted a new restaurant prototype last September, operates in seven states.

Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected].

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