Taco Bell Weighing Its Options


Account Is FCB’s for Now, But a New President Could Call Review
LOS ANGELES–Now that the dog days are over for Taco Bell, it will be up to a former burger man with a reputation for no-nonsense branding to deliver a sales boost to Tricon Global Restaurants’ problem child.
Newly appointed Taco Bell president Emil Brolick, who had been senior vice president of strategic planning, research and new product marketing at Wendy’s, “has a proven track record of driving consistent same-store sales growth,” said David Novak, chief executive of Louisville, Ky.-based Tricon. “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.”
Brolick has a mandate to launch an agency review if he chooses. Indeed, when Tricon announced its decision last week to give FCB the account, it used to term “interim” to describe the job.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for us, but by no means is this a slam dunk. We have to demonstrate results,” Jim Harrington, president of FCB Southern California, said of the client’s decision last week to move the business from TBWA\Chiat\Day, Playa del Rey, Calif.
FCB will likely roll out a new ad campaign as soon as September, according to Harrington. Clearly, Taco Bell’s insistence on a return to promoting the quality of its food–a stance that sources said was the wedge that finally separated the fast-food chain from TBWA\C\D–is consistent with Brolick’s approach to his new mission.
“Taco Bell leads the [quick-serve restaurant] industry for providing unique great taste and value for the money,” Brolick said. “I’m excited about leveraging these strong brand assets in a powerful way.”
Sources said Brolick’s style is a good fit with Taco Bell’s challenge.
“He is exactly what Taco Bell needs,” said a source. “They are a misdirected company, and Emil’s strength is strategy, branding and creating a discipline for a fast-food company.”
For the quarter ending June 10, Taco Bell’s same-store sales were down 6 percent for the quarter. Tricon siblings KFC and Pizza Hut saw a 3 percent drop and a 1 percent rise in sales, respectively, during the period.
Novak cautioned shareholders in a statement on second-quarter earnings not to expect a turnaround at Taco Bell until at least the end of the third quarter.