Taco Bell global brand officer steps down after lucrative term

Marisa Thalberg's marketing moves earned the brand cultural relevance and an increase in sales over 17 quarters. / Nation's Restaurant News

After a four-year scale up the corporate ladder to global chief brand officer, Marisa Thalberg has decided to step down from Taco Bell’s marketing responsibilities and move to parent company Yum Brands as its strategic advisor.

While the restaurant chain will not seek a chief marketing officer to replace her, Thalberg’s work will instead be divided between its two senior vice presidents: Melissa Friebe of marketing and Tracee Larocca of advertising and brand engagement.

In spite of the success reigned in during her term, including a 7% jump in second-quarter sales to continue a steady incline of same-store sales in 17 of 18 quarters, Thalberg wants to give herself “room to explore and be purposeful about what’s next,” as she posted on her LinkedIn account.

As she parts ways from the position, Thalberg leaves Taco Bell with the triumph of her efforts, which have been launching nacho fries and its subsequent campaign “Web of Fries”, the “Belluminati” ad, collaborations with Forever 21, T-Mobile (‘T-MoBell’) pop-up shops and the Bell Hotel in Palm Springs, California that sold out of reservations in a matter of two minutes.

After her run here and a previous eight years at Estee Lauder, Thalberg will remain to provide insight to Yum while keeping her eye out for her next opportunity.

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