Bruno Cardinali joined Popeyes in early 2019. Even with knowledge, concentration and focus sharpened during 13 years at consumer goods giant Unilever and a year at Popeyes' sibling chain Burger King, he couldn’t have predicted the success of “the sandwich” that Popeyes launched later that year.
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Marketing led by Cardinali boosted Popeyes to new heights and the sandwich continues to spawn copycats. As chief marketing officer in the U.S. and Canada, Cardinali tracks trends that can help Popeyes connect with diners. When people referred to stock market gains as "tendies" this year, Popeyes soon offered “Tendies”—free chicken tenders—to those who typed in popular ticker symbols on the app. And it played on the chicken sandwich wars in its nuggets launch campaign this summer.
“I love people, psychology as a whole,” says Cardinali, 39, the second oldest of seven siblings. Although he’s 6-foot-5 and played basketball in his native Brazil, he picked business over sports. Cardinali is excited by the marketing, and perhaps more by the impact the Popeyes brand can have on people’s lives. “We serve more than half a billion meals per year in the U.S.,” he says.