Using Story to Create Entertaining Ads with Steve Robinson (#94)

Retired CMO Steve Robinson and the Eat Mor Chikin Campaign

In his debut book, former Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Chick-fil-A, Steve Robinson shares with readers the secret to the growth and success of one of the nation’s fastest growing fast food restaurants. In Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A: How Faith, Cows, and Chicken Built an Iconic Brand, Robinson takes people behind the scenes to show them how Chick-fil-A scaled up from 184 stores and $100 million in annual sales to more than 2,100 stores and $6.8 billion in annual sales during the 34 years Robinson served as CMO. Read that again marketer. 34 years as CMO.

With an emphasis on building relationships rather than focusing on transactions, Robinson shares some of the philosophies Chick-fil-A employs that may seem counterintuitive to business…and why it has worked so well.

In our conversation, Steve and I also talk about how advertising that entertains is more powerful than just average interruptive advertising.

“You don’t know where people are going to encounter your brand. So you need to have one central theme, or focus. So we chose to have the focus be these renegade cows that behaved like 7 year olds.” - Steve Robinson on the Eat Mor Chikin campaign

Transaction Versus Relationship

Steve talks about changing the story of a fast food restaurant. It’s hard to differentiate yourself in a commodity market of transactions and quick, meaningless interactions. Instead of trying to focus of food, Chick-fil-A focuses on its people - the service their employees offer their customers. Steve says it changes the story people tell.

“15 years ago when you asked people why they love Chick-fil-A it was food related. Today, it’s people, engagement. ‘I like the way they say My Pleasure when I say thank you.’ “ - Steve Robinson on changing the story

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