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Kevin Mayer holds the title of executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Red Robin, which boasts 503 casual-dining restaurants as of 2023.

Kevin Mayer gives Red Robin the juicy campaign it needs

As the restaurant company looks to tap into youth and nostalgia, influencers have become a key partner

When it comes to marketing Red Robin to multiple generations, Kevin Mayer looks beyond the food and straight into fashion and consumer goods. The key, he said, is nostalgia, something the 55-year-old company has plenty of.

“In some ways, I need to speak to the 24-year-olds, and someone who used to come as a kid and is now 45 with kids of their own,” said Mayer, who holds the title of executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Red Robin, which boasts 503 casual-dining restaurants as of 2023. “There are three pillars of activation we want to go through.”

The three pillars start with loyalty, and how the company can reactivate the customer database. For example, that 45-year-old mother looking for a touch of childhood to share with her own children. Or a grandparent looking to connect with their young-adult grandkids.

The second pillar is what Mayer calls guest acquisition. This means he and his team make sure the customer data is flowing, from what consumers want to how they interact with the website to how Red Robin can reach folks effectively and bring them in to dine.

The last pillar focuses on engagement, and that’s were influencer culture comes in. But it’s not just having influencers come in to eat and then post about it on social media. While that certainly is part of it, Mayer’s interest leans toward discovering how influencers can get potential customers to interact with the brand.

“There are different layers of influencers. [There are] the ones who cover brands and moments of brands,” Mayer. said “A layer up is creators; there are a lot of great creators right now who are driving their own influence.”

One successful Red Robin social-media campaign involved Ariana Madix, a Vanderpump Rules star, actress, bartender and author of Single AF Cocktails. For Red Robin, she created a savory cocktail dubbed the Burgertini. Madix shared the drink with her 2 million-plus Instagram followers and brought her skills on air to Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show to debut the drink.

“We found Ariana right when the show was blowing up, and she has authenticity and is a bartender, so we pitched an idea that was a martini infused with burger juice, or bone broth, and she worked with us on the recipe,” said Mayer, who gave Madix creative control over the drink and how to market it on her social networks. “We were able to put in content with her and it blew up, we had half a million views in just 36 hours.”

As Red Robin finds more influencers to work with and create content, the company has a lot of fodder to work with. Over the years the menu has been updated significantly. The company even brought Brian Sullivan on to the team. Sullivan, who used to work with California Pizza Kitchen, revamped the food and how it’s presented. Now, one of the words thrown around liberally is “juicier,” as in juicier burgers.

Through the idea of “juicier,” the company launched another successful campaign, this time utilizing fashion. What better youth-favorite brand to partner with than Juicy Couture? The two companies came out with a $169 red track suit with “Red Robin” glittering on the front of the zip up, and the word “Juicier” on the rear of the pants. It’s been a hit, said Mayer, and personally, his teenage daughter loves it.

It’s that kind of reaction to Red Robin that Mayer wants. By targeting younger generations through social-media influencers, the brand gets reintroduced to the older generations. Many, he said, grew up going to Red Robin. Through campaigns like these, the company aims to get them all back to the booths, bottomless sides and juicier burgers in hand.

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