San Diego-based Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., known for its 97 Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants in nine states, has appointed Nichole Bushnell as chief marketing officer (CMO). Bushnell comes to the Garden Fresh team from San Diego-based Luna Grill restaurants, where she served as VP of marketing for the last four years and was responsible for brand strategy, e-commerce and loyalty platforms, creative and content direction and product development. During her tenure, the chain grew from 18 to 51 locations in California and Texas. Garden Fresh said that Bushnell will lead branding and marketing activities, positioning the company for growth and category development opportunities, including the launch later this year of restaurant’s first point-of-sale integrated loyalty program. Prior to her work at Luna Grill, Bushnell was VP of marketing at Ladeki Restaurant Group, operator of Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza, from 2012 to October 2015. From 2004 to 2012, she was with Pat & Oscar’s Restaurants, rising from marketing brand manager to director of marketing and brand development, where she was responsible for creative direction and execution of a menu evolution that led to an increase in guest check averages by 30 percent. Garden Fresh opened its first Souplantation in 1978 and Sweet Tomatoes in 1990.
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Digital marketing agency V Digital Services (VDS), based in Phoenix, has named Chris Reed as digital sales director for San Diego. Reed spent the past 10 years at the San Diego Reader, joining as inside sales manager and recently serving as general manager. A native of Los Angeles, Reed earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2002 from Sonoma State University. VDS operates in 25 U.S. markets with three offices in California, including Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. VDS employs analysts and account managers who specialize in helping clients polish their online presence through organic SEO, paid media, social media management, web development and both programmatic and pay-per-click advertising.
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San Diego-based Internet Marketing Inc. (IMI) has announced it has been acquired by digital marketing company REQ of Washington, D.C. IMI’s two offices in San Diego and Las Vegas now will be known by the REQ name. REQ also operates offices in New York City, Boston and San Francisco. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although the combined company reportedly will feature 120 employees across six offices and annual revenues of $50 million. A statement said REQ will integrate its expertise and proprietary technology in SEO, search marketing, digital advocacy and brand management with IMI’s advertising, earned media and social media capabilities. IMI, founded in 2008, counts among its clients MasterCard, Navitas, Arizona State University and Hard Rock Hotels International. REQ, also founded in 2008, works with Bayer, Red Hat, Disney, Intel, PayPal and Skanska. In 2018, REQ marked its 10th anniversary with a name change from RepEquity.