Loane Avenell: People are the Secret Ingredient

Loane Avenell: People are the Secret Ingredient

Ryan Shelley

16 December 2021

There’s just something about connecting with people that makes you feel alive and a part of something bigger. For Mad Mex’s National Marketing Manager, Loane Avenell, it’s the crux of everything she does.

For starters, fast-food marketing sure isn’t just about fast food; a big part of the fun is the fast feedback. Whether it’s customer reviews, social media feedback, in-restaurant feedback, internal team feedback, the constant feedback mechanism lends itself to a fast-paced, people-focused culture that is very much alive and always buzzing.

The philosophy at Mexican fast-casual chain Mad Mex is simple: “We believe people are the secret ingredient”. And that doesn’t just stop at the person behind your freshly made lunch-time burrito. At both the consumer and the team level, being surrounded by people and a familia with such a great energy and passion for the brand is the extra spice for a perfect (Mexican) dish.

“It’s actually such a fun category – more than I could have imagined – probably the most fun I’ve worked in, coupled with a lovely brand and culture.”

Loane started her marketing career in advertising sales, before moving on to her first agency role at a small indie agency in New Zealand where connection wasn’t just what helped her grow and learn, it’s what helped her get her foot in the door in the first place. Genuine networking and working with great people have time and time again been key ingredients that have taken her work and career to the next level.

That ethos travels through to all aspects of her marketing ethos. Whether it’s consolidating the brand DNA that will halo across all franchisees and consumer touchpoints, spring-boarding new angles for messaging, or pushing for a pro-bono campaign she believes in, collaborating with people is what gets things done – it’s where the magic is. And where magic is, results follow.

The foundation for these collaborative relationships and the drive behind the hustle comes down to “delivering the results today to earn the trust to do the different tomorrow”.

“Delivering the results today to earn the trust to do the different tomorrow”

One of Loane’s favourite campaigns from Mad Mex is the Big Burrito campaign partnering with Menulog that, in a word, went Big. A campaign that came out of the first lockdown, coupled with a great offer, it was a huge boost on so many levels – not only sales but network engagement. Putting pineapple on the line to mix with a burrito also caused quite a stir! Their successful riding of the meat-free wave with vegan offerings and Meat Free Mondays is also worth mentioning. You might’ve seen Mad Mex change their name to “Mad Vegan” on World Vegan Day – their success all comes down to an upfront omnichannel marketing approach, strong consumer insight, with a touch of a secret weapon – PR.

Successes aside, you never quite know how a campaign is going to land. Staying abreast of consumer and industry trends and having your ear to the door of change is key to ensuring that your multichannel campaign will more likely swim than sink.

When doing the research to spot trends, Loane employs two different lenses:

  1. A corporate lens. What are the leading brands doing? How are they overcoming industry-wide challenges? What new strategies are coming to the fore?
  1. And a consumer-focused lens. What’s resonating with consumers? How are people connecting with brands, and each other? What’s special?

Of course, there is perhaps no better time than now to impress upon the importance of connection. Lockdown was tough! Video calls can be fun, but they’re just not the same. It’s no secret that people are wanting to rebuild connections after lockdown, and Loane has been particularly on the lookout and thinking about the role that brands can and are playing in facilitating connection. (It sure helps that people connect over food more than most things!)

“Connection is a really lovely territory”

Ultimately, if people are the secret ingredient, it only makes sense that people need to be supported and nurtured to their fullest potential. Some of Loane’s most rewarding moments as a marketer are about giving back by mentoring, developing, and promoting people and teams. Taking a chance on people, extending support, and backing their strengths isn’t just what Loane does, it’s who she is.

Loane’s final words of advice for any young marketer?

“Curiosity all the way – the world’s changing constantly – what are you seeing, what’s the impact, what ideas emerge? Grab a hold of all the opportunities around you and learn from multiple people – all across the business. Get a mentor or make people your informal mentors. Network to learn and get exposure – you never know how those contacts will unfold in the future. Don’t be afraid to ask. Give back. And it’s a vibrant type of work – have fun!“

In short, go forth.