- Jimmy John's yesterday named Darin Dugan as chief marketing officer of the 2,800-unit sandwich chain. He will manage brand marketing and planning, advertising, and menu and new product development, along with digital marketing efforts that include loyalty and CRM programs, per an announcement shared with Marketing Dive.
- Dugan previously was VP of marketing at Sonic Drive-In, a sister chain of Jimmy John's run by Inspire Brands. At Sonic, he oversaw brand management, media, creative, and social and digital marketing. Dugan also worked with the burger chain's product development team.
- Before joining Sonic, Dugan had senior leadership positions at DineEquity-Applebee's and worked for more than 15 years at Kraft Foods, where he led several brands such as Oscar Mayer and Lunchables. He will report directly to James North, president of Jimmy John's.
Jimmy John's appointment of Dugan as CMO comes as parent company Inspire Brands shuffles management at its restaurant brands, which include Arby's, Buffalo Wild Wings, Rusty Taco and Sonic. Dugan replaces John Shea, who had led Jimmy John's marketing efforts since October 2017. Earlier this week, sister chain Arby's named Patrick Schwing, a former marketing executive from Procter & Gamble, as CMO.
Jimmy John's recent marketing efforts include the nationwide expansion of its Freaky Fast Rewards loyalty program in December. The sandwich chain showcased its mobile app that helps members track their rewards and make payments. More than 1.8 million people signed up for the program since Jimmy John's started the test last March and gradually expanded to select markets.
In October, the chain launched a multichannel campaign for a new sandwich with a promotion that included its first nationwide augmented reality Snapchat lens.
Dugan's appointment as CMO follows Inspire's takeover of Jimmy John's in September for an undisclosed amount, a move that was expected to help the chain benefit from Inspire's technology investment and integrated data and analytics platform. The acquisition made Inspire the fourth-biggest restaurant company in the U.S. with more than $14 billion in annual sales. Private equity firm Roark Capital Group formed Inspire when it merged Arby's and Buffalo Wild Wings in 2018. Later that year, Inspire acquired Sonic for $2.3 billion.
Dugan is leaving Sonic days after the chain released a new ad campaign and brand identify to position the burger chain as fun-loving and good natured. The campaign centers on the tagline "This is how we Sonic," and features commercials about four families' activities over the span of a day. The brand refresh marks a shift from its long-running "Two Guys" ad creative.