The Wendy’s Co. has appointed Craig S. Bahner as its next chief marketing officer, effective April 2, the company said Wednesday.
Bahner has spent the past 20 years as an executive with retail conglomerate Procter & Gamble. He will report to Wendy’s president and chief executive Emil Brolick.
Bahner’s hire fills the vacancy left by Ken Calwell, who resigned as Wendy’s chief marketing officer last June to become president of Papa Murphy’s International.
In the interim, former president David Karam handled marketing and advertising duties. When Karam stepped down as president at the end of 2011 to return to his 151-unit Wendy’s franchise, Brolick subsumed his responsibilities as president, including oversight of marketing.
With the management changes solidified — Wendy’s also said last week that chief operating officer Steve Farrar will retire next month and senior vice president of North American operations John Peters will assume his duties — the company will move forward with plans for a more premium brand positioning, Brolick said in a statement.
“We are very pleased to add Craig to our executive management team,” Brolick said. “He is a proven brand builder and a five-star achiever. He brings tremendous strategic management skills and a successful track record of exceptional business and marketing execution to our brand.”
At Wendy’s Investor Day conference on Jan. 30, Brolick said the brand would roll out a new marketing campaign in the second quarter, meant to re-emphasize Wendy’s claims on authenticity and food quality in its positioning against rivals like McDonald’s and what Brolick calls “new QSRs,” or fast-casual competitors like Smashburger and Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
A new slogan has not been revealed, but Wendy’s internally has described its initiatives as “A cut above.” Plans for this year detailed at Investor Day and in previous earnings calls include the new ad campaign, the remodeling of 50 company-owned restaurants and 20 new corporate locations to include the design of its new prototype, and menu innovation that includes a seasonal salad limited-time offer and upgrades to the chain’s line ofsandwiches.
Most recently, the chain introduced a Spicy Guacamole Chicken Club sandwich as a limited-time offer.
Wendy’s also said last week that its pork and chicken suppliers have agreed to change sourcing practices to allow for more humane treatment of pigs and chickens. The chain’s pork suppliers will begin phasing out the use of sow gestation stalls, and its chicken supplier will move from an electrical stunning method of chickens to a low-atmospheric-pressure system that produces permanent unconsciousness in the animals before they are processed.
At Procter & Gamble, Bahner most recently was vice president of North America retail hair, overseeing strategy for Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essences and other brands. He previously was vice president of Northeast Asia fabric and home care, based in Japan, and vice president of North America fabric care, managing business for Tide, Cheer and other laundry detergent brands.
Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy’s operates or franchises more than 6,500 quick-service restaurants in the United States and 27 foreign markets.