The National Restaurant Association Marketing Executives Group (MEG) welcomed restaurant marketers to Denver for its fall conference late last month with a new Ted-style format and two full days of guest speakers, networking opportunities and an exchange of ideas. The gathering took place at the Grand Hyatt in Downtown Denver on October 23 and 24.
This year's theme, Fast Forward: Big Ideas For Marketing Executives Short On Time, proved to be popular with the 300-plus attendees who traveled to the Mile High City to be part of the gathering. Guest speakers included Kaihan Krippendorff, strategist, book author and Fast Company blogger; Dan Fogarty with Noodles & Co.; Jen Klawin with Tumblr; Jeff Poer, founder of Pangeo Coffee and Tea; and Frances Allen, chief marketing officer for Denny's, just to name a few. Topics ranged from how companies can become involved in social change and how to effectively use social media to reach guests to rejuvenating an iconic American brand.
Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, who is also a successful Denver restaurateur, hosted Beer and Politics sharing with the audience the importance of embracing new concepts and ideas to effectively keep a business on top.
"I think our Ted-style format was extremely effective," says Jennifer Weerheim, co-chair of MEG and director of branding for Yard House Restaurants. "We were able to cover a lot of ground in just two days, and our breadth of topics really touched on all areas of restaurant marketing. From corporate responsibility and policy development to staying relevant in an ever-changing market, the conference was very topical to our industry."
The two-day event brought together an array of industry influencers and tastemakers, proven leaders, and strategists who shared their knowledge and expertise with the audience. Platinum sponsors included Facebook, The Level Up and Rich Products. During the event attendees sampled products from Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, Southern Peanut Growers, Barilla, CSM Bakery Products and the California Milk Advisory Board.
MEG will convene in Chicago for its spring conference May 16–18, 2014, which takes place just prior to the National Restaurant Show in Chicago.