Get Real...

More and more, customers are placing a high value on "Authenticity". Maybe it's a reaction to years of being pummeled by artificial product news, but there appears to be burnout with the pursuit of "flavor of the month" marketing.

Over a hundred years ago, the H.K. McCann Company launched their ad agency with the credo "Truth Well Told". Today, we know this company as McCann-Erickson Worldwide, part of the Interpublic Group. In 1969, this agency created the "It's the Real Thing" campaign for Coca-Cola. Many marketing people feel this was the last time Coke had a meaningful brand message.

Brands that are authentic ring true with consumers. After all, a Brand is a set of promises. If those promises are real at their core and are delivered on a consistent basis, the Brand connects with the customer, and a relationship is formed.

Our Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza Brand is built on three promises- the old world art of cooking in a coal oven (ensuring a unique taste); a simple menu (do just a few things really well); high-touch service (that makes you feel like family). Not very flashy. In fact, we are really "old school". Hardly what you would expect in a world where your smart phone can do everything but make breakfast, and where Caitlyn Jenner is a national hero. But in a very competitive category with hundreds of millions of dollars of promotional spending, we have grown to 50 stores in six states.

McCann knew it 100 years ago, "Authenticity" never goes out of style!

Nicholas Castaldo, M.B.A. (Harvard), is a Lecturer in Marketing in the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. Professor Castaldo is currently the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza. He can be reached at

10 Ingredients for a Successful Restaurant Concept

Thinking of launching a new restaurant concept? First piece of advice....Don't!! After three years, 60% of new restaurant companies fail. But, if you like to fight the odds and are convinced you have a winning idea, consider the advice below.

Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza has successfully navigated this very competitive marketplace, and, in its 11th year, has grown to 38 stores in six states. The Brand's success has been driven by a combination of factors-here are my top 10:

1) A unique product and authenticity are critical in the ultra-competitive restaurant industry (the world is not waiting for another pizza).

2) Never compromise on quality ingredients (there are a hundred ways to cut costs and corners, and all of them lead to Brand erosion).

3) Keep it simple (a short menu supports consistent execution and compels the Brand to "stand for something" in the eyes of the customer).

4) Treat staff and customers like family (it's the impersonal practices of the big chains that create the opportunity for smaller competitors to gain traction by making that important personal connection).

5) Share the wealth (when you expect a lot from your store managers and staff, you should give a lot).

6) Keep it fun (restaurants are entertainment after all).

7) Develop leaders internally (spreading and preserving your company culture is best done by the people who created it).

8) Build infrastructure without stifling the place (there's a reason most large restaurant chains go stale).

9) Cut your losses early (don't squander valuable resources trying to salvage a mistake; learn from it and move on).

10) Start with the end in mind (plan your growth; capital, management and real estate all have to come together like a marching band not like bumper cars).

Nick Castaldo, M.B.A., is an Equity Partner, Board Member, and SVP/Chief Marketing Officer for Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza and a Lecturer in Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the Huizenga Business School. He can be reached at More About the Author