At Lincoln South Rotary Club on October 23 we had the pleasure of hearing from Becky Perrett, the Director of Marketing for Runza® National on "A Brand People Want to Own".
Runza is "the Sandwich that launched a Brand People Want to Own".
She explained the title of her presentation - that people "own" the brand - they post to social media, create photoshop images and promote Runza. We are proud that Runza's are from Lincoln Nebraska.
Becky said that Runza is blessed to have an amazing amount of word of mouth presence. And, just like anything, it is one thing to see a commercial but we are more likely to act when there is a referral. She shared many images and stories of customers.
She also showed the fun and weird side of Runza. Their marquis boards, for example, try to be informational but also clever. She did share one store of a marquis board that caused some feedback and had to be taken down. Depending on your age, it could be interpreted in different ways. The marquis statement "Pretzel buns are better than man buns". 
They have interesting advertisements such as those printed on buses right now featuring 10 foot tall onion rings. The tag line "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round and so do our Onion Rings". She challenged us to go on the rest of our day without singing that song!
Becky shared a story about Gabrielle Union who is an actress originally from Omaha. She has returned to Lincoln a few times as she is a Husker fan. On one particular trip she was a special guest at a TeamMates event. She brought her family. Knowing that she was a cheerleader in college, Runza created a child size cheerleader outfit for her daughter with Runza as the "team logo".
They have also partnered with the Omaha Stormchasers. One game a year the team wears the name Runzas rather than Stormchasers.
Most of us know that Runza is from Nebraska - but do we know the whole story?
Sally Everett's family were Germans from Russia. The enclosed, baked sandwich was actually a staple of the family. It was easy to take to the field when working because of its enclosed design and it was simple to make for large gatherings. Sally's brother Alex returned from WWII and needed work. Being a bit of an entrepreneur, Sally suggested selling her sandwiches - because people always complimented her on them. They opened the first restaurant in 1949 in a modest cinder block building near Pioneers Park. But, it really grew with the leadership of Sally's son, Don.
The 2nd location opened at 56th & Holdrege in 1966. Shortly after that Don took a truck and parked outside of Memorial Stadium and sold Runzas there. He was soon asked to partner with UNL.
There are now 86 locations - 81 in Nebraska. Outside of Nebraska there are locations in Iowa - Council Bluffs and Clarinda, in Kansas - Lawrence and in Colorado - Loveland and Longmont.
Don provided a good working environment. He was never too proud to do any of the jobs. He was nurturing to the employees. He had a lot of foresight and knew how to treat the employees and customers - with respect. He also ensured that they always provided a quality product. As they were franchising he ensured that the franchisees had what they needed to carry on the brand.
Throwback photo:
Becky Perrett is the Director of Marketing for Runza® National, which is comprised of Runza® Restaurants and Braeda® Fresh Express Café. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in May of 1999. After traveling as an Educational Leadership Consultant for Alpha Xi Delta women’s fraternity, she began working at Runza® National. In December 2004, Becky earned a Master of Arts degree from UN-L in an interdisciplinary program of Advertising, Marketing, and Communication Studies with an emphasis in Marketing. In the community, Becky spends time volunteering for CEDARS Youth Services, Junior Achievement, Alpha Xi Delta, First-Plymouth Church and is a member of the American Marketing Association, Nebraska Women’s Leadership Network and the Junior League of Lincoln.