Food Marketing Nerds Restaurant and CPG Marketing Podcast

Food Marketing Nerds is an interview series with restaurant marketing experts, the best in CPG marketing, and entrepreneurs in the food and beverage industry. In this weekly podcast series, show host, Alex Oesterle, talks marketing, branding, and social media, diving into the hard and sometimes uncomfortable questions to uncover what's working and what isn't in world of food and beverage marketing. From CMO's to social media managers, the ideas and strategies will change the way you approach your CPG or restaurant marketing. If you're in the food and beverage space or intend to launch your own venture, these interviews are an amazing resource for practical tactics you can implement from day one. After co-founding a digital agency aimed at helping food and beverage brands boost sales to millennials, Alex started interviewing experts in the field to get insights into what makes the best food and beverage brands so successful. He created this podcast to share these interviews with you, and to help other food and beverage businesses achieve their goals in an actionable and entertaining way! Visit for show notes, interview transcripts, and free resources to help you achieve your restaurant marketing or CPG marketing goals.
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Food Marketing Nerds Restaurant and CPG Marketing Podcast




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Now displaying: 2016
Dec 21, 2016

In today's episode, White Castle CMO, Kim Bartley, discusses how and why their iconic restaurants continue to thrive despite fierce competition in the burger space.

When talking about competitive landscapes, most industries have something in common. You’ve got a few big fish with huge marketing budgets, and then you have the challengers, waking up each day looking for innovative ways to compete for the same customers in the same market.

Some challengers lean on creative marketing, some invent unique business models, others are absolute fanatics about building customer relationships. Today’s guest, Kim Bartley, is the CMO for a company that's happened to have mastered all three of those things. Yep, we are talking about White Castle.

From tactical Facebook advertising to strategically providing a medium for "Cravers" to share about their love for the brand, White Castle has been building community and customer loyalty from the top down. 

In today’s interview, Kim explains how White Castle has been so successful in the face of steep competition and changing consumer tastes. She discusses restaurant marketing topics that apply to brands both big and small, including:

How can you leverage data to thrive in a market full of brands with huge ad budgets? (This is one of Kim's main teaching points in her lectures at Ohio State, and her answer is about as practical as any food and restaurant marketing advice you'll hear.)

What can marketing leadership do to build a more loyal fanbase? (A little preview to this answer...Kim herself makes time each day to respond directly to customer feedback about new products and store experiences. Listening to customers isn't just an afterthought.)

Did Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle influence the restaurants' sales?(Ok, this answer might not help your business, but I couldn't resist asking. Plus, it's fun getting to second-hand experience what transpired since the idea of the movie was first introduced.)



  • Blue Ocean Strategy by Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim


Dec 14, 2016

Today, we’re talking with Pat Warner, VP of Culture at the Waffle House. For those of you who are not familiar with the Waffle House brand, they have over 1800 locations in 25 states — they are huge!

They’ve also got social media presence that gotten them coverage on Colbert, ESPN, and TMZ — just to name a few. Waffle House has a case study of how to turn customers and employees into advocates for the brand and a lot of it comes from using social media and how it is intended to be used.

 If you’re interested in strengthening your company’s culture and how to measure the impact of your social media efforts, you’ll to take a lot away from this interview with Pat. 

Pat’s job is to focus on building the company’s culture, while always staying true to the brand. Here are a few key topics we discuss about how Waffle House has grown to 1,850 locations in a less than in-your-face restaurant marketing approach:

How can large restaurants listen to employee and customer sentiment at scale?
(You’ll enjoy this answer, because the tools Waffle House uses are at the fingertips of all CPG and restaurant marketing professionals.)

What are the driving forces behind culture at a successful restaurant brand? (Pat believes that each restaurant has its own personality, and you’ll get to hear how his corporate office enables, and even facilitates the uniqueness and culture people keep coming back for.)

Can social media be used for both PR and restaurant marketing? (Short answer: Yes. Social media is a perfect extension of the discussions being had in your restaurant – as you’ll hear from Pat, leveraging those conversations can land you on the Colbert Report when done well.)

Books mentioned in the episode:
Getting Things Done by David Allen
Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Crucial Conversations by Al Switzler, Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, and Ron McMillan

Links mentioned:
Snapchat: @WaffleHouse

Dec 7, 2016

On the show today, we have Eric Pierce, Director of Strategy and Insights at New Hope Natural Media. We’re talking 2017 trends that are affecting natural products and CPG companies. While this interview may be more geared toward our CPG marketing nerds out there, the macro and cultural shifts Eric covers really apply to anyone with a business model that relies on selling what people eat or drink.

Restaurant marketing nerds, there’s knowledge for you to be gained here too.

Eric and his team are extremely tapped in to the industry, and having just released their 2017 Trends and Opportunities Forecast, it was the perfect time to have him on the show. You'll get to hear about the report in this episode.

If you're interested in where the industry is headed, new categories of products that are starting to emerge, or are looking for potential areas of opportunity for your brand, you're going to take a lot away from our interview with Eric.

In our conversation, Eric tackles the latest trends and how as a marketer you can make the most of what's going on. Here are just a few topics we touch on in the interview:

What categories within natural products industry are most rife with opportunity in 2017 and beyond? (Eric and his team's ability to see and contextualize macro level data puts them in a unique position to catch trends ahead of the market. I think you'll enjoy hearing his answer to this question.)

What are the biggest 2017 trends food and beverage companies should watch out for?  (With their 2017 Trends and Opportunities Forecast hot off the press, Eric shares findings from what he and his team have been working on.)

What are some of the driving forces behind the shifts in consumer taste? (The food industry is changing, and Eric connects the dots between a few trends in technology that may have a correlation to why we demand different food than we did just a decade ago.)

Links discussed in the episode:


Blue Ocean Strategy
The Dorito Effect by Mike Schatzker
The Third Plate by Dan Barber
The End of Plenty by Joel K. Bourne
Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard
The Soil Will Save Usby Kristin Ohlson
The Good Gut by Erica Sonnenburg and Justin L. Sonnenburg
The Hidden Half of Nature by Anne Biklé and David Montgomery
Life's Engines by Paul Falkowski
Food, Inc. (documentary)
Fat Sick and Nearly Dead (documentary)

Nov 30, 2016

Over the past several years, marketing to millennials has been a hot topic of conversation. By most definitions, millennials are anyone born between the early 80’s to the late 90’s, best known for their lov of snapchat, obsession with traveling, and most importantly, their massive spending power and large makeup of the US work force.

So, It’s no surprise that many brands have shifted marketing budget to engage this generation – whether through relevant product offerings, on trend design, cause marketing, or in the case of today’s guest, it’s pulling together all the above.

We’re talking with Amanda Sains, Marketing Director of B’More Organic, about their recent rebrand and cause marketing done right. Just a little back story, B More Organic has donated over $600k to an awesome cause you’ll get to hear about in a minute.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How to communicate your company’s mission without sounding preachy
  • What brands should be doing with their packaging to appeal to millennials
  • Why genuine cause marketing is much more than a campaign

And a lot more…

Nov 16, 2016
When it comes to the companies who win awards for product innovation, the first thought that comes to mind is probably some hot new startup on the bleeding edge of an emerging trend. And while that might be true in some cases, B&G Foods is no start up by any stretch of the imagination, and they’ve been reinventing some of the most classic brands in the CPG industry lately, picking up awards while they’re at it . Today we’re talking with Juv Marchisio, Marketing Director of B&G Foods, about innovating both from a product development and marketing standpoint with recent examples from the brands in his portfolio, like Cream of Wheat and Ortega. On this episode, you’ll learn: How to take an analytical look at growth opportunities for your brand Where and when to start in generating demand for a new product What characteristics make food companies an attractive acquisition And much more…
Nov 9, 2016
Over the past several years, the beef jerky category has been on fire with investments from big money players and major acquisitions, and today, we’re talking with Steele Meisinger, te brand manager for one of the companies that started it all: Krave Jerky. After being acquired by Hershey in 2015, Krave has been growing like crazy, and it’s allowed them to do some amazing things in the marketing department. And you’re gonna get to hear about a few of those things from Steele herself. On today’s episode, you’ll learn: Where to start when approaching a truly 360 degree campaign How to integrate native advertising into your marketing strategy What it was like working with Michael Phelps as an Olympic sponsor And much more…
Oct 24, 2016
I don’t know about you but it feels like every other week, there's yet another food company being acquired by an industry beast for 10’s and even 100’s of millions of dollars. It’s encouraging for food entrepreneurs, knowing that many of these companies started with good old-fashioned, grassroots marketing. But does that type of approach even work anymore? Well today’s guest will be the first to say that, yes, it absolutely does. Hannah Kuhlberg is the Bean Queen, aka handler of many things including marketing, for a company called Better Bean Co. She’s been using some really creative, not to mention super effective, ways to leverage this new landscape of marketing and PR to grow her business, one cheeky grassroots effort at a time. On today’s episode, you’ll learn: What strategies work to drive measurable ROI with in-store demos Where to start out to build a successful brand ambassador program How to indirectly help customers find your product on the shelves And much more…
Oct 17, 2016
Today we’re talkin' Hummus. Hummus has been around for THOUSANDS of years, and yet, Hope Foods, makers of Hope Hummus, has redefined the category as we know it. On the show today, we’re gonna be chatting with Will Burger, Director of Marketing for Hope Foods, about how a group of friends went from making hummus in their kitchen at home, to now, still a group of friends making hummus for stores all over the country, all on a shoestring budget. On today’s episode, you’ll learn: How to get buyers and customers talking to each other about your products What you should be doing on social media to build awareness when you’re entering a new market Where to look for inspiration for launching new flavors that people will love And much more…
Oct 7, 2016
Is it possible to change the way people think about a food they’ve loved their entire lives? Today’s guest will tell you that it isn’t easy, but with a great product, and outstanding marketing, it is possible. Will Schafer is the Director of Marketing at Beyond Meat, a company that has been changing the game around plant based protein. And it’s not just vegetarians and vegans, carnivores are embracing their products and for good reason, because they taste exactly like actual meat. In our interview Will talks about how Beyond Meat has been successful in pushed back against conventional norms, especially with their newest product, the Beyond Burger. Even though Beyond Meat has created its own category, the marketing and social media strategies we discuss can be super effective for any food or beverage company launching a new product. In this episode, we talk about: How to introduce a product to a demographic outside your core customers Why social media is so effective for revolutionary food brands How to create demand before your products even launch And a ton more…
Sep 30, 2016
What does it really take to challenge the status quo in the CPG industry? Some might say time, or creativity, others might say strategy. Well today’s guest would likely say, “all of the above”. If you’ve never heard of Scott Jenson before this episode, then surely you’ve heard of his first food startup, Stubbs Barbeque sauce. Scott Jenson co-founded Stubbs BBQ sauce in the early ‘90s, which he sold just a few years ago. Being the pioneer that he is, Scott is now the CEO of Rhythm Superfoods and has his hands in some other great ventures you’ll hear in this episode. In this episode with Scott, you’re gonna learn: - Where your marketing focus needs to be to increase sell-through rate - How often you should be updating your packaging - Why going after different retail channels at once can backfire - And a whole lot more… For links mentioned in the episode or for a full recap, go to
Sep 23, 2016
What’s up guys, this is Alex Oesterle and thank you for tuning into episode 9 of Food Marketing Nerds. We’ve all heard stories of food startups that have achieved insane growth in a short period of time. If you’re anything like me, those stories leave you thinking, Ok so I know what they achieved, but how did they go about doing it? Today’s guest is Lizzi Ackerman, who is the COO of the all-natural pancake mix brand, Birch Benders. Over the past two years, Birch Benders has gone from a distribution of just under 20 stores to now over 5000. And after talking with Lizzi, I can tell you that it wasn’t luck, but smart, well thought out strategy that led to Birch Benders’ success. A lot of which, you’ll get to hear from Lizzi. In this episode, we’ll be discussing: How your distribution strategy will make or break you Where to focus marketing budget when funds are limited What tools Birch Benders uses to stay lean And many more insights from an entrepreneur who is practicing what she preaches.