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Applebee's names new marketing chief

OVERLAND PARK Kan. Applebee's International Inc. hired George Williams, a former Blockbuster Inc. and ad agency executive, as chief marketing officer to replace John Cywinski, who resigned in May.

Williams will be responsible for all of the casual-dining brand's advertising and marketing as well as the overall direction of the chain's food and menu strategy and research and development. He will report to chief executive Dave Goebel.

Most recently Williams had been a private marketing consultant. Before that he was senior vice president of marketing for Blockbuster, where he worked from 1997 to 2002. He also worked in marketing positions for Pearle Vision Center, Long John Silver's Holdings Inc. and Days Inn.

His agency experience includes serving as vice president of client services for The Richards Group, MARC USA and M/A/R/C Group.

Cywinski, who joined the nearly 2,000-unit chain in 2001, left in May to spend more time with his family. He had been commuting to Applebee's headquarters here from his home in Chicago.

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