Atlanta-based Arby’s Restaurant Group has hired Rob Lynch as its brand president and chief marketing officer.

Most recently, Lynch was vice president of brand marketing for Taco Bell, and prior to that he held marketing roles at consumer goods companies Procter & Gamble and The HJ Heinz Co. He will oversee Arby’s marketing and advertising, as well as the chain’s culinary research and development.

“Rob’s strong track record of success working with customers and franchisees and leading the advertising and innovation efforts for billion-dollar businesses makes him an ideal addition to our industry-leading executive management team,” Paul Brown, who joined Arby’s as chief executive in April, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to have him on board and look forward to his contributions to the Arby’s brand.”

Lynch’s most recent experience includes helping develop Doritos Locos Tacos and the accompanying marketing campaign at Taco Bell, which earned the brand “2013 Marketer of the Year” honors in Advertising Age. In his prior career at Heinz, he oversaw marketing for the Ore-Ida brand, and he and his team won the “Chairman’s Innovation Award” for their work. Lynch also established a multicultural marketing program at Heinz.

“I have been a big fan of Arby’s for a long time,” Lynch said in a statement. “I grew up eating roast beef sandwiches with Horsey Sauce. Arby’s has great products, passionate team members, dedicated franchisees and an iconic brand. That’s always a winning combination. I feel honored and privileged to become a part of the Arby’s family.”

The marketing department had been the source of franchisee-franchisor tension prior to Lynch’s hiring, during the short tenure of former CMO Russ Klein, who shook up Arby’s marketing campaign and advertising agency relationship before departing. Klein was named CMO in January 2012, having made his name as a restaurant marketer with Burger King.

A month later, Klein switched advertising agencies without a review. He moved from BBDO — the agency that had been producing positive quarterly same-store sales with the “Good Mood Food” campaign — to Crispin Porter + Bogusky, which had worked with Klein when he was at Burger King to produce iconic, if polarizing, commercials starring its mascot, The King.

When Klein resigned this past June, it was revealed shortly thereafter that franchisees had been unhappy with several of Klein’s decisions — including the abrupt switch to Crispin Porter — and had called for his departure.

The “Slicing Up Freshness” campaign remains Arby’s branding message today.

Arby’s has also promoted George Condos to president of Arby’s Restaurant Group and chief operating officer, roles in which he will continue to oversee operations, development and franchising.

Atlanta-based Roark Capital Group acquired Arby’s in June 2011 from Wendy’s/Arby’s Group for $430 million. The sandwich chain operates or franchises more than 3,400 locations worldwide.

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN