Taco Bell chief marketing officer David Ovens has resigned for personal reasons after four years with the quick-service brand, the company said Thursday.
Ovens, who began as CMO at Taco Bell in 2007, was working with company executives on a plan to reignite the brand, said Rob Poetsch, Taco Bell spokesman.
However, citing personal reasons, Ovens has decided to return to Australia with his family.
The chain’s chief executive Greg Creed will lead the marketing team while Taco Bell searches for his replacement, Poetsch said.
“I am extremely proud of David’s contributions to the brand, including repositioning our value offering with the launch of Why Pay More, the introduction of the Drive-Thru Diet Menu, and new protein and beverage offerings,” Creed said in a statement. “I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with David, and I know he will be very successful in future endeavors, where he can bring his energy, passion and vision back to his native Australia.”
Ovens joined Taco Bell in the United States after serving as chief marketing officer for Yum! Restaurants International in Australia and New Zealand.
Ovens was instrumental in leading the chain’s layered marketing calendar and value position, said Don Unruh, chair of Taco Bell’s FRANMAC franchisee association marketing committee.
“We appreciate everything that his vision and passion brought to the brand,” Unruh said in a statement. “We are all 100-percent determined to build long-term growth and support the Taco Bell leadership team as we all work together to regain our brand esteem and drive significantly better performance.”
The news comes at a time when Irvine, Calif.-based Taco Bell and parent company Yum! Brands Inc. have been working to turn around sinking domestic sales after a rough first half of the year.
For the second quarter ended June 11, the 5,195-unit Taco Bell reported a same-store sales decline of 5 percent, which officials partly blamed on the lingering effect of a lawsuit filed in January that raised questions about the chain’s seasoned ground beef.
The lawsuit was later dropped, and the chain fought back aggressively with newspaper ads, commercials and a social-media campaign, but analysts said the chain would need more time to recover.