Taco Bell’s global chief brand officer, Marisa Thalberg, is moving on. Her departure was announced internally, according to Adweek.
Thalberg wrote on her LinkedIn page, confirming the news. “Having led Taco Bell to record-breaking sales [with a +7 percent for the quarter announced yesterday] and to pretty amazing heights of cultural excitement and relevance, I have been ready to take on a new challenge with even broader scope and opportunity for me, and it felt like now was the big moment to go for it.”
Thalberg said she would remain a strategic adviser to YUM! Brands for “the next several months.”
Per Adweek, Taco Bell said it’s not looking to fill the CMO post and did not give a reason why. Melissa Friebe, the chain’s SVP of marketing, and Tracee Larocca, SVP of advertising and brand engagement, will handle the duties.
In a statement to the publication, Julie Felss Masino, Taco Bell’s North America president, said: “Over the last four years, Marisa has helped lead record-breaking sales in a highly competitive category, all while transforming Taco Bell into a culture-centric lifestyle brand.”
In her post, Thalberg spotlighted her time launching Nacho Fries, its accompanying “Web of Fries” campaign and lifestyle pushes like the Forever 21 apparel line and, recently, the hotel pop-up in Palm Springs, California.
Thalberg is the founder of Executive Moms as well. Previously, she was a marketing exec at Estee Lauder and Unilever.
Taco Bell boosted system sales 10 percent in the second quarter of fiscal 2019, with same-store sales of 7 percent and net new unit growth of 3 percent. The chain opened 55 gross new restaurants in 12 countries.
Taco Bell has reported positive same-store sales in 17 of the last 18 quarters, including 12 consecutively.
In July, YUM! named Mark King, former president of Adidas Group North America, Taco Bell CEO.
King left Adidas in 2018. Under his leadership, YUM! said, the company increased its sales 35 percent in 2017, doubling its market share and regaining the No. 2 position in the U.S. From 2003–2014, King was CEO of TaylorMade-Adidas Golf.
“… I could not be more proud of what I and the team have accomplished, and could not love this brand, its franchisees, our partners and this team more,” Thalberg added in her post.
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