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How CMO of 90-year-old fast food chain Krystal is pushing to expand brand relevance

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How CMO of 90-year-old fast food chain Krystal is pushing to expand brand relevance

After 90 years of slinging its iconic sliders, Atlanta-based fast food chain Krystal is looking for new ways to not just boost brand awareness, but retain relevance with each new generation of customers. Especially as today’s marketing landscape is increasingly fragmented and ever-changing.

To do so, the company has tapped Casey Terrell, former head of digital transformation for Focus Brands, parent company to Carvel, Cinnabon, Schlotzky’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill and more. Last summer, the restaurant focused its efforts on streaming video and micro-influencers. Under the new CMO, the brand is shifting gears, leaning more heavily into brand partnerships, most recently with rapper 2 Chainz and NFL star Victor Cruz.

Digiday caught up with Terrell to discuss his plans for brand relevancy, tapping into Gen Z and preparing for economic downturn.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Partnerships are important for Krystal this year?

[We’re] really leaning on our 2 Chainz partnership. He’s our head of creative, but he’s more of a business partner. He’s a great partner for us to be able to talk to an audience that we’ve never been able to reach before. He’s got millions and millions of followers on social. He’s got an amazing reach and voice. And so for us, that’s a great partner for us to maintain that relevancy to be able to talk to these segments that we haven’t before. We have our core demographic, targets and fans. We want to make sure that we’re always our fan’s favorite, but how do we always reach new consumer segments, new audiences? We’ve got Victor Cruz in the Northeast, who’s a legendary member of the Giants organization, Super Bowl hero, [and] who is our master franchisee for New York and New Jersey. There’s other conversations that we’re having with some other pretty big names that are coming.

Why are brand partnerships important for Krystal right now?

We saw other brands do this. McDonald’s did a great job with Travis Scott, Megan thee Stallion and some of these other deals we’ve seen. We’re looking for business partners and people that want to grow with us, not just one off activations. 

How does this year’s strategy compare to last year’s?

It’s really more about content. We’re going to update our channels, make sure that TV and out of home are covered, the tech stack makes sense, we’re capturing data and understanding our guests so that we can personalize things and make them fans. But a lot of it’s on the content side. If that content is for certain audiences, how do we personalize it to them as much as possible? The biggest change is leaning in more with our partnerships.  We’re trying to go a little bit younger with our fans. Everybody’s going after Gen Z, but how do we have a message that resonates with them without alienating our current guests? The big change is more on the methodology and how we’re doing media. 

How is Krystal thinking about marketing in 2023 given the impending economic downturn?

We’re a value brand. We’ve been through a few of these cycles. We’ve seen the trade downs over the years. As economic crisis hits, people tend to trade from fast casual or a sit down restaurant and they come more to value [quick service restaurants]. Specifically, on the media marketing budgets, [what] we’re looking at is how do I fill my ecosystem? I think everybody’s trying to do that. We have to be reliant on third party and use them for awareness and eyeballs, but it’s more of a marketplace. If I don’t have a tech stack on my side that makes sense for our guests to be able to get something over here and fill the first party channels, then you’re really relying on someone else. Going into 2023, how do we make that martech stack better? How do we personalize better?

What’s next?

The biggest thing is that we’ve got new franchises. We opened our first franchise location 15 years [ago]. We opened in Puerto Rico. We have Victor Cruz’s stores that are opening, 2 Chainz stores that are opening. Just trying to breathe a lot more life back into [the brand] with new ownership. We want to make sure that people know we’re here and we’re expanding.

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FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are

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FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are
A player shouldering the ball



(Image credit: EA)

FIFA 23 might be the best game soccer game yet for terrible sports fans, as it lets you turn off commentary that criticizes your bad playing.

Now that the early access FIFA 23 release time has passed, EA Play and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can hop into the game ahead of its full release. But as Eurogamer (opens in new tab) spotted, they’ll find a peculiar option waiting for them.

FIFA 23 includes a toggle to turn off ‘Critical Commentary’. The setting lets you silence all negative in-match comments made about your technique, so you can protect your precious ego even when you miss an open goal or commit an obvious foul. The more positive commentary won’t be affected. 

Spare your feelings

A player dribbling the ball in FIFA 23

(Image credit: EA)

The feature looks tailored toward children and new players, who don’t want to have their confidence wrecked within mere minutes of picking up the controller. But even experienced players who just so happen to be terrible at the game might benefit.

It’s not perfect, though. According to Eurogamer, the feature didn’t seem to work during a FIFA Ultimate Team Division Rivals match, with critical comments slipping through the filter. Still, who hasn’t benefited from a light grilling every now and then?

Polite commentary isn’t the only new addition in FIFA 23. It’s the first game in the series to include women’s club football teams, and fancy overhauled animations that take advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S’s new-gen hardware. EA will be hoping to end on a high, as FIFA 23 will be the last of its soccer games to release with the official FIFA licence.

If disabling critical commentary doesn’t improve your soccer skills, maybe building a squad of Marvel superheroes will. Although you might not do much better with Ted Lasso wandering the pitch.

FIFA 23 is set to fully release this Friday, September 30.

Callum is TechRadar Gaming’s News Writer. You’ll find him whipping up stories about all the latest happenings in the gaming world, as well as penning the odd feature and review. Before coming to TechRadar, he wrote freelance for various sites, including Clash, The Telegraph, and Gamesindustry.biz, and worked as a Staff Writer at Wargamer. Strategy games and RPGs are his bread and butter, but he’ll eat anything that spins a captivating narrative. He also loves tabletop games, and will happily chew your ear off about TTRPGs and board games. 

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Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch

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Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch
The backs of the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro



(Image credit: Google)

We’re starting to hear more and more Google Pixel 7 leaks, with the launch of the phone just a week away, but tech fans might be getting a lot of déjà vu, with the leaks all listing near-identical specs to what we heard about the Pixel 6 a year ago.

It sounds like the new phones – a successor to the Pixel 6 Pro is also expected – could be very similar to their 2021 predecessors. And a new price leak has suggested that the phones’ costs could be the same too, as a Twitter user spotted the Pixel 7 briefly listed on Amazon (before being promptly taken down, of course).

Google pixel 7 on Amazon US. $599.99.It is still showing up in search cache but the listing gives an error if you click on it. We have the B0 number to keep track of though!#teampixel pic.twitter.com/w5Z09D28YESeptember 27, 2022

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According to these listings, the Pixel 7 will cost $599 while the Pixel 7 Pro will cost $899, both of which are identical to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro starting prices. The leak doesn’t include any other region prices, but in the UK the current models cost £599 and £849, while in Australia they went for AU$999 and AU$1,299.

So it sounds like Google is planning on retaining the same prices for its new phones as it sold the old ones for, a move which doesn’t make much sense.


Analysis: same price, new world

Google’s choice to keep the same price points is a little curious when you consider that the specs leaks suggest these phones are virtually unchanged from their predecessors. You’re buying year-old tech for the same price as before.

Do bear in mind that the price of tech generally lowers over time, so you can readily pick up a cheaper Pixel 6 or 6 Pro right now, and after the launch of the new ones, the older models will very likely get even cheaper.

But there’s another key factor to consider in the price: $599 might be the same number in 2022 as it was in 2021, but with the changing global climate, like wars and flailing currencies and cost of living crises, it’s a very different amount of money.

Some people just won’t be willing to shell out the amount this year, that they may have been able to last year. But this speaks to a wider issue in consumer tech.

Google isn’t the only tech company to completely neglect the challenging global climate when pricing its gadgets: Samsung is still releasing super-pricey folding phones, and the iPhone 14 is, for some incomprehensible reason, even pricier than the iPhone 13 in some regions. 

Too few brands are actually catering to the tough economic times many are facing right now, with companies increasing the price of their premium offerings to counter rising costs, instead of just designing more affordable alternatives to flagships.

These high and rising prices suggest that companies are totally out of touch with their buyers, and don’t understand the economic hardship troubling many.

We’ll have to reach a breaking point sooner or later, either with brands finally clueing into the fact that they need to release cheaper phones, or with customers voting with their wallets by sticking to second-hand or refurbished devices. But until then, you can buy the best cheap phones to show that cost is important to you.

Tom’s role in the TechRadar team is to specialize in phones and tablets, but he also takes on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working in TechRadar freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. Outside of TechRadar he works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.

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DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

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DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

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