When you look at Jason Moskal’s resume it looks like a long way from Ally Bank to Meineke Car Care. He started as CMO of Meineke in April after a four-year stint at the online banking company. The jump to a car care company is not as far as it looks. For Moskal, Meineke ($900 million in 2012 sales) is an opportunity to work with another brand that has an entrepreneurial spirit and is based on customer experience. This time, he has put more of his own stamp on it. When he arrived at Meineke, planning was underway for a major consumer marketing campaign. He put that on pause. After a good amount of consumer research and a tough round of questioning the brand’s basic messaging, Meineke has rebranded. It’s focus is now on “Driving A Little Smarter.” And it has embarked on a major digital and TV campaign featuring “Kid President” Robbie Novak.
Brand Innovators caught up with Moskal a week after the Kid Mechanic campaign launched.
You have been very honest and direct about the “rebranding” of Meineke. Why has it been such a different direction for the brand?
I wanted to focus on what we could do for consumers as a brand. We compiled a lot of surveys, focus groups and other customer data around the perception of Meineke and found there was a lot of confusion about our brand and its basic services. It was an immediate opportunity to address the average consumers’ basic pain point. They felt like they were entering our locations and being upsold. They never had the benefits of and oil change or wheel alignment explained to them. We’re tried to position the brand in the same way that they would think about themselves We want them to think about going to Meineke for their car in the same way that they would think about going to the doctor for a physical. We want to tell you what to look out for in terms of your car’s health.
What specifically do you feel that you brought to this job from your Ally Bank experience?
A lot of things. Ally was all about customer satisfaction and the customer experience. Our customer satisfaction rate was 92 percent on a month-to-month basis. And one of the things I learned is that you can’t just go out and say ‘we’re going to educate the consumer.’ You have to do more than that in an advertising campaign. You need to show the benefits of changing their behavior and show them you want to be a partner to them. Like Meineke Ally was a transactional business with a lot of competition. This is a big opportunity for us to win business back and connect with the consumer with a message they care about.
Find 10 different CMOs and they have 10 different job descriptions. What’s yours?
Three things. First you have to provide a vision for the company. The best retail brands have a crystal clear vision of what they do. You can’t just put a campaign and a tagline out there. You need a plan to put the entire brand forward. Second, I think the CMO needs to provide a clear motivation to sales people and the entire team. Everything has to impact business and sales. That’s a mantra for me. The third thing is to put the lens of the customer on. I don’t necessarily see the company the way our customers do. In order to do that I need to take the CMO hat off, and put the customer hat on.
What was some of the early thinking behind the “Kid Mechanic” campaign?
It came out of our research and agency meetings. We looked at three ways that we could fit an ad campaign within the brand architecture and this was the best way we could execute against that. This addresses the lack of knowledge that leads to consumer confusion. Now understand that when we first started looking at Robbie Novak, his “Kid President character wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today. I think he’s a great kid and he really nailed the video and TV spot.
Where is the Meineke brand in a year?
I want to make sure we’ve educated our customers. I want to see revenue growth. And I want the Meineke brand to stand for something.