Top 10 QSR Marketers You Should Follow

  • UPDATED: 31 May 2024
  • 9 min read

Reading Time: 9 minutes

In the fast-paced Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) industry, where 59% of consumers are prepared to pay more to purchase from their preferred restaurants, the ability to cultivate loyalty and create meaningful connections with customers is paramount. 

Executing creative and thoughtful marketing strategies is the key to unlocking the hearts (and stomachs) of potential customers, and marketing leaders play a pivotal role in this endeavor. 

That’s why, in this article, we’ll highlight ten amazing QSR marketers who have elevated their respective brands to new heights. The marketers celebrated in this article have not only navigated the ever-evolving landscape of consumer preferences but have also spearheaded campaigns that resonate on a cultural level, turning casual customers into dedicated brand advocates. 

From leveraging nostalgia to pioneering digital transformations, we’ll uncover the secrets behind how these marketing masterminds are driving success within the QSR industry so you can too.

Let’s dig in.

Top 10 QSR Marketers List

Jennifer (“JJ”) Healan: Vice President, U.S. Marketing, Brand, Content, & Culture, McDonald’s

Jennifer "JJ" Healan

Jennifer “JJ” Healan has built an impressive career, leading marketing efforts at some of the world’s most iconic brands. Prior to McDonald’s, she spent 15 years at The Coca-Cola Company, overseeing advertising and content for brands like Coca-Cola, Fanta, Powerade, and Schweppes. In February 2020, she became Vice President of U.S. Marketing, Brand, Content, and Culture at McDonald’s.

Healan spearheaded the “Famous Orders” platform, collaborating with celebrities like Travis Scott, BTS, and Mariah Carey. She also led the successful Grimace’s Birthday Shake campaign, which celebrated Grimace’s 52nd birthday with a unique purple shake and viral social media moments on TikTok. These initiatives significantly boosted McDonald’s cultural relevance and engagement with younger audiences.

In an article from Marketing Dive, Healan remarked,

“Part of showing up authentically in culture means sharing the pen with fans so they can make the brand their own. And sometimes, that means they take the conversation in an unexpected direction. But we’re here for however they want to celebrate with us. Thanks to our fans, Grimace’s Birthday was one of our most socially engaging campaigns of all time.”

Under her leadership, McDonald’s achieved notable accolades, including being named #2 on AdAge’s Marketer A-List in 2020 and 2022, winning the EFFIE award for US Brand and Marketer of the Year in 2022, and making Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list in 2023. Healan was also recognized as AdAge’s Brand Leader of the Year in 2021 and received the AdWeek 50 Luminary Award in 2022​.


Aubrey Alexander: Associate Manager of Customer Marketing & Loyalty, SONIC Drive-In

Aubrey Alexander

Aubrey Alexander, Associate Manager of Customer Marketing & Loyalty at SONIC Drive-In, has carved a niche in loyalty marketing. She is recognized for her strategic use of customer engagement platforms to enhance experiences and foster brand loyalty.

Her notable achievements include leading SONIC’s “Teachers’ Circle” program, pivotal to the success of the Limeades for Learning initiative. This program earned her the “Loyalty Hero of the Year” award from SheerID. Her strategic and impactful work at SONIC highlights how targeted customer engagement and innovative marketing strategies can enhance loyalty and brand growth.


Jillian Nelson: Chief Marketing Officer, Dunkin’

Jillian Nelson

Jillian McVicar Nelson has been with Dunkin’ since 2011 and was promoted to Chief Marketing Officer in September 2022. She has played a pivotal role in shaping Dunkin’s strategic vision, particularly as a principal architect of the Dunkin’ U.S. five-year strategic plan, the Blueprint for Growth, which has been foundational to the company’s business strategy since 2017.

Nelson’s leadership has driven Dunkin’s innovation strategy, successfully launching popular food and beverage platforms like Dunkin’ Refreshers, Cold Brew with Cold Foam, and Avocado Toast. Her efforts have maintained Dunkin’s position as a leading coffee and beverage brand, recognized for attracting younger consumers and adapting to changing market trends.

Known for innovative campaigns, such as the Super Bowl ad starring Ben Affleck, Nelson’s attention to current trends and what resonates with the Dunkin’ audience has allowed the brand to connect with customers in uniquely engaging ways.

Reflecting on the success of the Super Bowl campaign, she said,

“Our Ben Affleck and Ice Spice campaign was such a fun way to take tried and true pumpkin spice season up a notch with a star-powered collaboration no one saw coming. Their connection and shared genuine love for Dunkin’ made the spots resonate with audiences across all demographics and interests.”

Nelson’s background includes a career start in public sector consulting with IBM Global Business Services. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy Studies from Duke University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.


Carl Loredo: Global Chief Marketing Officer, Wendy’s

Carl Loredo

Carl Loredo joined Wendy’s in January 2016 as VP of Brand Marketing and was promoted to Global CMO in March 2023. Before Wendy’s, he held senior marketing roles at The Marketing Arm, Craftmade, and PepsiCo.

Loredo has cemented his reputation as a standout marketer through innovative strategies that have propelled Wendy’s to the forefront of the fast-food industry. A key example is the 2024 March Madness campaign, which featured unbeatable deals and drove significant customer engagement. Another example of how Wendy’s has used innovative QSR customer engagement strategies is when they introduced the ‘Wendyverse,’ a branded virtual reality experience on Meta’s Horizon Worlds platform. 

Loredo’s marketing philosophy emphasizes genuine customer connection and community building. In an interview with Forbes, he stated,

To make Wendy’s the most talked-about brand in the world, not by outspending others, but by outplaying them… We take pride in having real, authentic conversations with our customers and acting on human insights we discover.”

His success is also attributed to his innovative use of technology and data, leveraging AI and other advanced tools to ensure Wendy’s marketing efforts are effective and tailored to individual markets, creating a unified global brand presence.


George Felix: Chief Marketing Officer, Chili’s Grill & Bar

George Felix

George Felix, the Chief Marketing Officer at Chili’s, has an impressive track record of revitalizing brands through innovative marketing strategies. Before joining Chili’s, Felix held prominent roles at Procter & Gamble, Yum! Brands, KFC, and Tinder, where he led transformative campaigns that redefined brand identities and engaged a broad audience.

At Chili’s, Felix has successfully employed nostalgic marketing to resonate with millennial customers, notably reviving the “I want my baby back ribs” jingle with a modern twist, featuring Brian McKnight in a humorous ad. This campaign effectively tapped into the fond memories of the target audience and was well-received on social media.


Anthony Nguyen: Vice President of Marketing, CKE Restaurants

Anthony Nguyen

Anthony Nguyen is a seasoned marketing leader whose career spans the CPG and restaurant industries. His expertise in market data analysis and marketing strategy, complemented by a strong foundation in art direction, drives effective visual strategies that enhance brand visibility.

Nguyen has been pivotal in steering teams across 15 different countries, showcasing his adeptness in navigating diverse cultural landscapes. His leadership has crafted campaigns like the Free Burger Day Super Bowl ad in March 2024, significantly boosting sales and market share. 

His recent endeavors include tapping into the viral potential of marketing, with a focus on platforms like Instagram to engage modern audiences effectively. This strategy reflects his forward-thinking approach and his ability to adapt and thrive in the dynamic landscape of digital marketing, making him a notable figure in the QSR marketing arena.


Gabe Alonso: Vice President of Digital Marketing, El Pollo Loco

Gabe Alonso

Gabe Alonso, currently the VP of Digital Marketing at El Pollo Loco, has a notable career marked by innovative campaigns and significant achievements in digital marketing. Previously recognized by Adweek, Gabe was awarded a seat on Adweek’s Social Media Council during his tenure at PepsiCo.

At El Pollo Loco, Gabe spearheaded the overhaul of the Loco Rewards® program, introducing a tier-based system and enhanced app experience. The “Pollo Millionaire” campaign, where members could win one million reward points, drove both engagement and loyalty.

Gabe’s marketing philosophy focuses on creating compelling, insights-driven consumer experiences that foster brand advocacy.  His efforts contributed to a 7% year-to-date increase in member spending and an 11.9% year-over-year increase.  

A quote from Gabe encapsulates his approach:

“Familia is at the center of everything we do at El Pollo Loco. We have redesigned our Loco Rewards® offers to make sharing and dining together with friends and loved ones as seamless as possible.”


Susie Moschkau: Director of Digital Marketing, Dairy Queen

Susie Moschkau

Susie Moschkau, the Director of Digital Marketing at Dairy Queen, has played a crucial role in advancing the company’s digital presence and customer engagement strategies. With a strong background in digital marketing, she has launched successful campaigns and earned prestigious awards for Dairy Queen.

Dairy Queen’s digital platforms, including the DQ App and, have received top industry accolades such as Newsweek’s America’s Best Loyalty Programs for three consecutive years and six Awards of Excellence from The Communicator Awards in 2023. These awards recognize excellence in user experience and visual design. 

As she states in a recent press release,

“Being recognized with awards validates the great work of our DQ digital marketing team… We are incredibly proud of how we’re innovating our digital experiences and we’re honored to be recognized.”

One of the most notable DQ campaigns was the promotion of the $.85 Blizzard Treat, which significantly boosted customer engagement and loyalty signups. This campaign alone contributed to a 46% increase in purchase conversion rates both in-app and online, demonstrating the effectiveness of her strategies in driving substantial business outcomes​​.

Susie views customer engagement as central to Dairy Queen’s success. She emphasizes the importance of providing best-in-class digital experiences to DQ fans, fostering long-term loyalty and satisfaction. 


Zachary Schermer: Director of Marketing, Wingstop

Zach Schermer

Zachary Schermer, Director of Marketing at Wingstop, has been vital in driving the brand’s customer engagement and digital transformation strategies. Wingstop has focused on leveraging technology to enhance customer interactions and streamline digital sales, aiming for 100% digital transactions. This includes utilizing first-party data to personalize customer experiences.

Wingstop’s “MarTech” structure integrates marketing and IT functions, optimizing digital communication channels and engagement strategies. This approach supports Wingstop’s goal of becoming a top global restaurant brand by fostering agile and collaborative teams focused on both micro and macro levels of customer communication​​.

Additionally, Wingstop has received recognition for its innovative marketing campaigns and customer engagement efforts. For example, the brand was awarded for its superior customer and employee engagement strategies at the Engage Awards in 2022, showcasing its commitment to excellence in these areas.


Liz Bazner: Vice President of Marketing, A&W Restaurants, Inc.​

Liz Bazner

Over a decade ago, Atlantic Magazine notoriously nominated A&W Restaurants as a candidate for its list, “10 Brands That Will Die in 2012.” However, since joining A&W in 2012, Liz Bazner has made significant contributions to the brand’s marketing and customer engagement strategies and been a critical influence in revitalizing the brand through innovative and engaging campaigns.

One notable achievement is the “3/9 Burger” campaign, a humorous twist on A&W’s historical marketing misstep with the 1/3-pound burger, leveraging the brand’s mascot to engage customers online. Another successful campaign under her leadership was “Cheddar Weather,” celebrating Cheese Curds with a seasonal merchandise line.

Under her direction, A&W achieved significant growth, with same-store sales up by 67% since the brand was sold by Yum Brands in 2011. Her focus on digital marketing and customer engagement has been crucial in maintaining the brand’s relevance in a competitive market.


Today’s Best QSR Marketers to Follow: Concluding Thoughts

The QSR industry thrives on dynamic marketing strategies and the ability to connect with customers in meaningful ways. The marketing leaders featured in this article have demonstrated exceptional creativity, strategic thinking, and a deep understanding of their audiences. 

From Jennifer “JJ” Healan’s “Famous Orders” platform at McDonald’s, which brought together cultural icons like BTS and Travis Scott, to Carl Loredo’s innovative ‘Wendyverse’, these leaders have redefined customer engagement and leveraged technology to captivate audiences.

Through their visionary leadership, these marketers have not only driven impressive business results but also shaped the cultural relevance of their brands. As the industry continues to evolve, these marketing leaders set the standard for innovation and customer engagement.

Their stories serve as an inspiration for aspiring marketers and a testament to the power of effective marketing in the QSR sector.