Chipotle announced Tuesday (March 20) that it has filled its chief marketing officer role, left vacant by the resignation of longtime executive Mark Crumpacker. Chris Brandt, formerly the executive vice president and chief brand officer at Bloomin’ Brands’ Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s, Bonefish Grill, and Fleming’s, will step into the position, effective April 2.
"Chris is an extremely talented and effective marketing executive," Chipotle’s new CEO Brian Niccol, said in a statement. "Having worked with Chris in the past, I have seen first-hand his ability to generate sales overnight and build brands over time. His experience and expertise make him an ideal fit for our leadership team at Chipotle as we look to reinvigorate this exceptional brand, and build sales, transactions and profitability."
Brandt oversaw a 75-person brand team at Bloomin’ and was responsible for product innovation, brand positioning, product pipeline development, consumer insights, creative strategy, and development, media strategy, loyalty, and digital marketing across the four casual-dining concepts.
Brandt also has a background in quick service. Before Bloomin’, he served as chief brand and marketing officer at YUM! Brands’ Taco Bell, where he led marketing and food innovation. Niccol also hails from Taco Bell, where he was president of the chain from 2013–2014 and then served as CEO from January 2015 until he took the Chipotle job in early March.
Brandt was at YUM! during some of Taco Bell’s most successful innovations, including the Doritos Locos Tacos and the quesalupa. He also oversaw the Happier Hour daypart push and breakfast, as well as digital initiatives such as the Taco Bell app. Before Taco Bell, he held senior-level marketing and brand development positions with Odwalla/Coca-Cola and General Mills.
"I have admired the Chipotle brand both as a consumer and a marketer over the years," Brandt said in a statement. "I'm excited to join the company during this pivotal time and to work with the rest of the leadership team to help reignite the brand and increase relevance with consumers."
Crumpacker, the chain’s chief marketing officer since January 2009,stepped down March 15 in an agreement that entitles Crumpacker to cash severance totaling 26 weeks of pay at his base salary. He’s also allowed a period of 12 months to exercise vested stock-only stock appreciation rights. The agreement prevents Crumpacker from working for another restaurant company for a year as well.
He was credited for helping the chain rebuild its image following the 2015 E. coli outbreak that hit 14 states and erased around half of the chain’s market cap.
Crumpacker was also placed on leave by the company in 2016 following a July arrest where he was charged with seven counts of cocaine possession. Crumpacker completed a rehabilitation program and was reinstated by the company three months after being placed on leave. He pleaded guilty that January and prosecutors agreed to dismiss the case if he received treatment for a year and stayed out of trouble.