Q&A: Former Facebook marketing exec joins DoorDash 'to be about building again'
Kofi Amoo-Gottfried talks Cambridge Analytica and branding in the ‘burbs
Kofi Amoo-Gottfried talks Cambridge Analytica and branding in the 'burbs.
Having seen its valuation roughly double since February to around $12 billion, DoorDash is now looking to take brand awareness to the next level. To bring that idea to fruition, the six-year-old restaurant-delivery service has hired ad-world veteran Kofi Amoo-Gottfried, who left Facebook earlier in 2019 after working for more than three years in executive consumer marketing roles at the social network.
In addition to the Ghana native having had a front-row seat during Facebook’s tumultuous times, he’s also had stops at Bacardi, Wieden+Kennedy and Leo Burnett. Additionally, he helped lead Nike’s 2008 Olympics campaign. What’s more, he is the nephew of former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, who passed away last summer.
Amoo-Gottfried quietly left Facebook on Jan. 13, beginning a series of 2019 executive departures at the company. Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer, and Chris Daniels, the head of its messaging platform WhatsApp, have quit Facebook since.
"Facebook is going through its moment, right?” Amoo-Gottfried said, before adding, “I have a strong belief in the team there.”
Amoo-Gottfried spoke exclusively with Ad Age about his new employer as well what it was like to work at Facebook before and after Cambridge Analytica. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
We've seen bigger tech brands such as Twitter struggle with user growth. How will you grow DoorDash’s base, differentiate from UberEats and Postmates and make good on that $12 billion valuation?
We have the broadest and widest selection. We have ninety of the top 100 restaurants in America. Another thing that's been key to the company's success is, while our competitors focused on cities and urban centers, we started out by focusing on the suburbs. What we are ultimately doing here is helping businesses expand and that's been our lens through which we engage with the Cheesecake Factories and Chipotles of the world.
Isn’t branding to urban and surburban consumers at the same time tricky?
If we're doing promotions with Chipotle, that's going to attract a certain kind of customer versus if we're doing something at Cheesecake Factory and so on. But there's work that we have to do when we do our campaigns as DoorDash. For instance, how do we segment these audiences? How do we think about the suburban mom with two kids who has a very different need in terms of why she uses a product or a service like DoorDash versus the twentysomething [careerist] in New York City?
DoorDash partnered with Burger King and Wingstop during the Super Bowl, allowing for delivery and special offers from those brands. To push user growth, will DoorDash run a spot in the 2020 Big Game?
Well, I don't know if we'll go off and run a Super Bowl ad, but I think both things are important. [It’s important] to partner with these terrific companies where we know that they're driving a lot of affinity in the marketplace in their own right. But there's also work to be done establishing DoorDash as a brand. You can certainly expect to see more of that coming soon.
Let’s shift gears to Facebook. Why did you leave?
I've always been happiest when I'm building. I had that desire to get back to a world that would be about building again.
Did the 2016 election and Cambridge Analytica make your branding job harder?
What do you think? (Light laughter.) Of course. The entire world of tech back then was held up in a way that it just isn't today. Like, [everyone] looked at technology companies, including Facebook, as these companies that were changing the world and disrupting—but pretty much with a positive lens. The last four years has made all of us question the role of technology in our lives, the role of technology companies and the responsibility of companies as they grow [their] communities. So, I definitely say that, for sure, being in that situation where people were questioning Facebook's intent certainly made my job harder—there's no question about that.
Did you learn anything from your late uncle Kofi Annan that applies to marketing?
And while we never really talked about marketing, I was always struck by his incredible ability to see the world through other people’s eyes—to deeply understand people and their perspectives, and to create solutions that catered to those perspectives; often in partnership with the people affected. He did this no matter where he was in the world, who he was sitting across the table from, or how different they were from him. I think all great marketing starts here—with a deep understanding of, and respect for, the audience.