Chuck E. Cheese's to debut marketing campaign for moms

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Chuck E. Cheese’s is placing moms in its marketing sights as the restaurant and entertainment chain readies to launch a new multi-media push later this month.

While Chuck E. Cheese’s parent company CEC Entertainment Inc. has not released full details of its self-described “moms campaign,” the company indicated it will include an emphasis on shareable online content, such as videos and promotional photographs, on social-media platforms including Facebook, Pinterest and Foursquare. In addition, the company is courting so-called “mommy bloggers,” via attendance at last week’s BlogHer conference in New York City and promoting information through the #CECBlogHer Twitter hashtag.

The chain’s new strategy targeting moms was expected to debut late this year or early next year, but has been moved up to this month, according to CEC executives speaking during the company’s second-quarter earnings conference call. The chain’s performance in the latest quarter was deemed a disappointment, including negative same-store sales and a drop in net income.

“We believe we have a significant opportunity to re-energize our brand with a new and aggressive marketing approach to the entire family,” Dick Frank, executive chairman of Irving, Texas-based CEC Entertainment, said.

Frank said this month’s marketing will be a “multi-media effort directed at moms, which will be the most aggressive, integrated and sustained moms campaign in the company’s history.”

The new marketing layer comes just one month after the chain introduced a new mascot aimed at kids — the new Chuck E. Cheese mouse mascot grew slimmer, gained a guitar and became rock star-like in national creative introduced in July.

“We see a great opportunity for that moms campaign combining with the kids’ creative,” Mike Magusiak, president and chief executive, said. He said the new moms campaign “is a very integrated and strategic campaign with incredible creative.”

It will include video and social media, he said, adding that “We are perhaps most excited about the recently produced digital video and the ability to utilize our new website design to communicate a coordinated pricing strategy.”

As part of the marketing shift, CEC plans for redesigned website to go live in late October, Magusiak said, offering “an enhanced tool for attracting visitors to our brand, promoting our unique family entertainment experience [and] engaging kids and adults.” It will include more menu and location information as well as games.

For the second quarter, CEC net income dropped 37.3 percent, to $4.1 million, or 23 cents a share, from $6.5 million, or 34 cents a share, in the prior-year quarter. Revenue fell 2 percent to $182.4 million.

Chuck E. Cheese’s same-store sales declined 2.4 percent in the second quarter, which ended July 1, falling 0.5 percent in April, 3.7 percent in May and 3 percent in June. Same-store sales for July, which is in the company’s third quarter, fell 3.3 percent, Magusiak said.

CEC and its franchisees operate 560 Chuck E. Cheese’s stores in 48 states and eight nations and territories. The company said it plans to add between 12 and 15 new units this year, including three relocations.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless