Industry News | July 19, 2000

Waller Strikes Out at Taco Bell

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Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: YUM) announced July 18 the appointment of Emil Brolick, 52, as president, chief concept officer of its Taco Bell Corp. division, replacing Peter Waller, who had served as president since1997. Despite the popularity of recent ad campaigns featuring a sassy Chihuahua, sales at the Mexican-style restaurant have stagnated, prompting the change in management as well as the company's advertising agency.

"Peter Waller has made many significant contributions to Taco Bell, KFC and our international business over the last 10 years," Novak said. "However, we mutually agreed it is an appropriate time at Taco Bell to bring in a new, outside perspective—both in terms of new management leadership and advertising support," said David Novak, CEO of Tricon Global Restaurants, which owns Taco Bell along with KFC and Pizza Hut.

Salomon Smith Barney reports that Taco Bell sales had declined by 6 percent in 2000's first quarter, and second quarter consumer response to promotional ads were not as high as expected. Salomon Smith Barney forecasts negative, mid-single digit numbers for the third and possibly fourth quarters.

Brolick is a twelve-year veteran of Wendy's International, Inc., most recently as senior vice president, new product marketing, research and strategic planning. He is credited as being one of the primary architects who helped drive Wendy's sustainable same store sales growth from 1988 through today, and has successfully developed their `superior brand' strategy, while launching a series of successful new products. In total, Brolick has nearly 30 years of product development, marketing and business planning experience, 20 years of which are in the restaurant industry.

"Emil Brolick has a proven track record of driving consistent same store sales growth. He brings strong conceptual and consumer insights, along with a demanding performance-orientation, which is exactly what is needed at Taco Bell to reinvigorate the business," said Novak..

Taco Bell also announced it is reassigning its $200+ million advertising account to Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB Worldwide), Southern California from Chiat Day, Los Angeles. The account had been split between the two agencies, with Chiat developing all of Taco Bell's advertisements since 1997, while FCB coordinated all of Taco Bell's field marketing and media buying. FCB will now handle all aspects of the advertising account on an interim basis until Mr. Brolick determines whether to put the account up for formal review, or keep it with FCB. During Taco Bell's strongest growth years in the late 1980's and early 1990's, FCB was the company's full-service advertising agency and developed its popular "Run for the Border" advertising. "FCB is a creative powerhouse which understands our business and is committed to driving our same store sales growth with compelling advertising," said Novak. "Their immediate challenge is to give us a fresh creative approach to help improve sales trends," Novak added.