Joe Ennen has discovered a way to turn salami into gold — and he’s using a marketing pitch that spins millennials.
Ennen — with 20 years in the food business, including stops at the Safeway grocery chain and at Frito-Lay — was tapped nearly three years ago by Columbus Foods, a sleepy, San Francisco meat producer.
Columbus’s wares included a salami brand that, despite being almost 100 years old, was hardly distinguishable from scores of other labels on grocer shelves.
For Ennen — a marketing genius who helped make Doritos a hit with the 17-to-35-year-old set — the century-old sausage was packed with possibilities.
“We wanted to try to do for meats what craft beer did for beer,” Ennen told The Post.
Hired by Arbor Investments, a buyout firm that scooped up Columbus in 2012, Ennen was named CEO of Columbus Manufacturing early last year after just nine months of curing his sausage strategy.
With the help of Joe Fox, another Frito-Lay alum, he launched a plan to transform Columbus into a brand that oozed authenticity, quality and natural goodness — all the buzzwords that would have millennials eating it up.
“There are dozens and dozens of salami brands started by Italian immigrants,” Ennen said. “Our spin was to take one of these wonderful brands and make it interesting to the millennial customer.”
“If you want additives, eat it with mustard,” one campaign slogans read. “No antibiotics, no nitrates, no baloney.”