Captain D’s focuses on branding in 2012


When Jonathan Muhtar joined Captain D’s Seafood Kitchen as its new chief marketing officer in late November, he began reformulating the brand’s marketing plans in the wake of two big events: the selection of TM Advertising as its agency of record and the acquisition of 65-unit Grandy’s Country Cookin’.

Muhtar, who most recently was vice president of global marketing and innovation at Burger King, primarily is focused on refining the systems and processes for Captain D’s marketing and menu development. The chain’s positioning as a seafood specialist within the fast-casual segment not only attracted Muhtar to Captain D’s, but also should allow for growth in 2012, he said.

With 2012 shaping up to be another uncertain year for consumers, Muhtar told Nation’s Restaurant News that Captain D’s needs to ensure the rollout of more surefire menu items and promotions.

What are your expectations for 2012?

I’d say we’re hoping for the best and planning for the worst. There have been some encouraging signs in the past few months: Consumer confidence is on an uptick, and unemployment is down a bit. But some of the key concerns about the more general economy are still there. We continue to get shocks to the system, whether from Europe or the States, and to some extent that will continue. It’s hard to predict their impact, so we have to be prepared for more uncertainty.

What led to TM winning the Captain D’s account, and are you pursuing any marketing efficiencies with Grandy’s?

What put TM ahead of the competition was their strong strategic foundation. Their pitch included their own consumer research, and their initial thoughts on our positioning lined up with what I thought as well. They were the best fit for us, particularly in an environment where we’re not just looking to break through with new messaging, but also to define fertile ground for our brand to stand upon and follow through for years to come.

For now, Grandy’s is totally separate from Captain D’s [in terms of marketing], but over time there will be opportunities for efficiencies.