Darden Restaurants Inc. appointed a new chief marketing officer Tuesday, alongside new brand presidents at LongHorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden.
The company also said that Olive Garden’s current president, John Caron, would be leaving the company after 10 years.
The new executive appointments are as follows:
Will Setliff was promoted to senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Darden. According to LinkedIn, Setliff had most recently served as executive vice president for Darden’s Specialty Restaurant Group, which includes concepts Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze and The Capital Grille. He joined Darden in April 2012 and was previously senior vice president of marketing at Target.
Setliff replaces James J. “JJ” Buettgen, who said in November that he would be leaving the chief marketer post to become chief executive at Ruby Tuesday Inc.
"Our guests are changing and we are changing with them, and one important area of change is the work we're doing to evolve marketing,” said Darden CEO Clarence Otis in a statement. “Will's expansive experience in driving successful, cutting-edge consumer marketing programs provides the perfect background needed to lead our enterprise-wide efforts."
Dave George was named president of Olive Garden. He was most recently president of LongHorn Steakhouse, a job that he has held since 2003. He first joined Darden in 1998, when he became LongHorn’s vice president of operations.
“He is a proven restaurateur,” Otis said. “His feel for guests and employees and demonstrated leadership capabilities will serve Olive Garden well as we seek to...reclaim the brand's value leadership position.”
Valerie Insignares was promoted to president of LongHorn Steakhouse. Most recently, she had served as chief restaurant operations officer at Darden, a post she assumed in February 2011. She first joined Darden in January 1997, when she became director of food and smallwares in the company’s commodities purchasing department.
“With Dave moving to Olive Garden, Val is a tremendous fit to lead LongHorn as we continue to expand it across the country,” Otis said.
Setliff, George and Insignares will report directly to Drew Madsen, Darden’s president and chief operating officer.
The executive changes come just weeks after a lackluster second-quarter earnings report, in which the Orlando-based company vowed retool its marketing efforts for its three largest brands: Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse.
The company declined to comment on the executive changes beyond a press release.
Darden operates more than 2,000 company-owned restaurants.
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