I experienced a “blast from the past” this fall when the name Mark Mears jumped out at me from a press release trumpeting a variety of ways in which Saladworks, the restaurant chain of which he is CMO, was raising money for the national nonprofit No Kid Hungry.
I first met Mark back in 2009 when the Cheesecake Factory, where he was then CMO, ran a Halo Award-winning campaign called The Drive Out Hunger Tour supporting Feeding America. Over his 30+ year career, Mark has also led marketing teams at Mimi’s Café, Schlotztky’s and Noodles & Company and at each stop along the way he has made cause-related initiatives a major part of the chains’ strategies.
I recently virtually sat down with this Kansas City-based restaurant industry expert to talk about the intersection of cause and commerce in his work:
Q: You’ve made cause-related campaigns a