- Burger King's North American CMO Ellie Doty has left the brand, according to details emailed to Marketing Dive. Doty was the first person to hold the position when she joined the chain in June 2020.
- "Ellie made the personal decision to leave the Burger King brand," per a statement from parent company Restaurant Brands International (RBI), which Adweek first reported. "We appreciate her many contributions to the brand and look forward to seeing what she accomplishes in the next chapter of her career."
- Doty, who had been leading Burger King's U.S. and Canada business on an interim basis alongside Chief Operating Officer Tom Curtis since July, becomes the latest marketer to exit the chain, which has seen its growth lag behind that of competitors. Yosef Hojchman, who has 15 years of experience with RBI, will become interim CMO.
Ellie Doty is the latest major marketer to leave RBI following the departure of global CMO Fernando Machado (who took the top job after years at Burger King) and global chief brand officer Paloma Azulay, who was promoted after Machado's exit. Doty joined Burger King in June 2020 as the chain's first North American CMO after stints at Chili's and KFC.
The continued shake-up of the marketing teams at RBI comes as the parent company of Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons struggles to grow same-store sales, especially compared to rivals that face the same challenges caused by the pandemic and ensuing labor shortage. Last quarter, Burger King saw system-wide comparable sales of 7.9%, weighed down by a 1.6% dip in U.S. comparable sales. Meanwhile, comparable sales at rival McDonald's were up 12.7% globally, with a 9.6% lift in the U.S.
Doty came to Burger King with a wealth of experience in brand strategy, creative menu ideas and creating digital and data-driven marketing programs. She was originally tasked with a remit that included guest insights, media, advertising and social media. In July, she became co-leader of the company's U.S. and Canada business on an interim basis when Burger King Americas president Chris Finazzo left the chain.
During Doty's run as North American CMO, Burger King mostly avoided the "hackvertising" tactics favored during Machado's tenure. Along with experimenting with NFTs and cryptocurrency as it works to grow its app-based loyalty program, the chain has attempted to distinguish itself from competitors with efforts that underscore purpose-driven initiatives.
Burger King this year took on McDonald's popular Famous Orders platform with its own celebrity-driven Keep It Real Meals, which it used to mark the elimination of 120 artificial ingredients from its menu. The chain also made a donation to the Human Rights Campaign for every Ch'King menu item sold during Pride Month. The deal was applicable "even on Sundays," likely a shot at competitor Chick-fil-A, which is closed on Sundays and has a history of donating to anti-LGBTQ charities.