TGI Fridays Snags Taco Bell Marketer as Next CMO

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TGI Fridays' new restaurant in Addison, Texas, featuring the brand's new updated, contemporary styling.
TGI Fridays' new restaurant in Addison, Texas, featuring the brand's new updated, contemporary styling. Credit: Business Wire

TGI Fridays named longtime Taco Bell marketer Stephanie Perdue as its next chief marketing officer, one of two executive moves announced Tuesday as the 52-year-old chain tries to stand out in the struggling casual dining industry.

Jerry Comstock joined the bar-and-grill chain as president and chief operating officer.

Stephanie Perdue, CMO
Stephanie Perdue, CMO Credit: TGI Fridays

Ms. Perdue had been at Taco Bell since 2004 and was most recently its chief product marketing officer. She was a key player on projects including the introduction of the Doritos Locos taco and the chain's breakfast menu.

"Casual dining, including Fridays, needs to be more imaginative and differentiated, especially around product innovation, marketing, and customer engagement," TGI Fridays Chairman and CEO John Antioco said in a statement. "Fridays is determined to distinguish itself from the category by leveraging its heritage as a great American bar and grill. Stephanie and Jerry will lead that change in a big way."

Privately held Fridays does not release its quarterly sales figures. Competitors in the broader casual dining industry have been posting some weak results. In the latest quarters, same-restaurant sales fell 3.2% at Chili's, 4.1% at Ruby Tuesday's and 5.2% at Applebee's.

Fridays had named Brian Gies its CMO in 2013. It was not immediately clear when Mr. Gies left the company.

Mr. Comstock, the new president and chief operating officer, is a former Fridays franchisee who also previously led about 300 Burger King restaurants. Mr. Comstock has "excellent long-term relationships" with Fridays' franchise operators, who run more than 90% of the company's 470 U.S. restaurants, Mr. Antioco said.

Fridays has been working on what it describes as an "elevated bar-centric menu" and on improvements in areas such as digital connections with customers. It claims to be the first national bar and grill chain to offer ordering via Facebook and Twitter.

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