Irving-based CEC Entertainment, a national leader in family entertainment and dining, has announced that Sean Gleason has been appointed as the new Chief Marketing Officer for Chuck E. Cheese and its virtual kitchen brands, including Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings.
David McKillips, President and CEO of CEC Entertainment, says Gleason brings more than two decades of brand marketing experience in restaurants, beverages, and family entertainment, making him the “perfect complement to the most aggressive brand transformation in the company’s history.”
Transforming the Chuck E. Cheese brand for long-term growth
As CMO, Gleason will lead all marketing functions, menu innovation, guest insights, communications, and the brand’s digital marketing and consumer journey initiatives, the company said in a news release. He’ll also develop and execute strategies that position Chuck E. Cheese for domestic and international long-term growth.
Mastering brand transformation
With over 25 years of marketing strategy, media, advertising, and brand experience, Gleason is expected to bring a new level of expertise to Chuck E. Cheese and its virtual kitchen brands.
Gleason’s marketing career is extensive, with more than a decade as Chief Marketing Officer for Dave & Buster’s, where he oversaw the brand’s revitalization and digital transformation, special events, and culinary initiatives. During his time there, the company grew revenue from $521 million to $1.35 billion, according to the news release.
Gleason also led all consumer-facing initiatives for Dr Pepper Snapple Group as Senior Vice President of Strategic Marketing Communications. He also adds “great pizza expertise” to the company, with a decade spent at Pizza Hut, as the brand’s Vice President of Marketing Communications, as well as a Director of Field Marketing.
Looking forward to building momentum
In a statement, CEC Entertainment CEO McKillips expressed his enthusiasm about Gleason’s appointment, saying, “I am thrilled to have Sean join CEC Entertainment to lead the marketing strategy for the world’s largest family entertainment center brand, Chuck E Cheese.”
Gleason also shared his excitement about joining the Chuck E. Cheese team, saying, “The Chuck E. Cheese brand potential is unlimited. I look forward to working with the entire CEC Entertainment Team and franchise community to build and accelerate the brand’s momentum in the years to come.”
Gleason will be based at the CEC Entertainment corporate support center in Irving.
The Chuck E. Cheese chain—originally founded in 1977 by Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell and Gene Landum—has become a household name for family entertainment and dining. In the ’70s, Bushnell had the idea to combine games, pizza, and electronic animals to keep customers entertained while waiting for their pizza. That concept was a big success, leading to the first Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre opening in San Jose, Calif., in May of ’77.
Bushnell aimed to avoid having his pizza entertainment center become just a teenage hangout, so he created a family-friendly environment with automated entertainers to attract more families. After a year of operation, Bushnell left Atari. During Chuck E. Cheese’s first year in business, the franchise opened 50 U.S. stores.