UPDATE: February 5, 2020: Details around Dunkin's VP of marketing strategy role and the state of the company's CMO search were added following a response from a company spokesperson.
- Dunkin' Brands, the owner of restaurant chains Dunkin' and Baskin-Robbins, promoted Jill McVicar Nelson to VP of marketing strategy for Dunkin' U.S., according to a company announcement.
- Nelson most recently served as director of corporate strategy and chief of staff to CEO Dave Hoffmann. In her new role, Nelson will lead a retooled team behind brand marketing and planning and value and pricing strategies, reporting on an interim basis to Hoffmann.
- The move is part of a realignment of Dunkin's marketing organization. In a statement, Hoffmann said that the company is combining its strategic, go-to-market functions into one team to support growth in the U.S. and adopt a more integrated approach to marketing.
With the new executive appointment, Dunkin' is enacting broader changes that look to streamline its marketing operations — an increasingly common tactic among major consumer-facing brands seeking to accelerate growth. The tweaks come on the tails of a rebranding that saw Dunkin' drop "Donuts" from its name, an initiative that was overseen by former CMO Tony Weisman.
While Nelson is not taking over CMO duties, the VP role will see her wield significant influence over Dunkin's marketing strategy during a particularly disruptive time for the QSR category. The position is newly created, a spokesperson told Marketing Dive via email. Digital-based consumer services and marketing are increasingly intertwined for many marketers, a trend that appears to be reflected in Nelson's new role as VP of marketing strategy.
Dunkin' has moved in recent years to put a stronger focus on digital and mobile capabilities, remodeling its stores to recognize how more on-the-go diners are ordering via their smartphones and demanding modern convenience. It's a shift Nelson has helped guide through a years-long Blueprint for Growth project that has seen Dunkin' revamp its thinking around menu innovations, in-store tech and overall brand identity.
"Jill has been intimately involved in the creation and execution of our Blueprint for Growth, the multi-year plan to transform the Dunkin' U.S. business," CEO Hoffmann said in a press statement. "With Jill at the helm, I am confident we will be able to respond more quickly to changes in the consumer landscape, provide better support to our franchisees, and, ultimately, better serve our guests."
Following the departure of CMO Weisman last fall, Dunkin' said a replacement search was effective immediately. The company is still in the search process, and Nelson will report to Hoffmann until a new CMO is hired, the spokesperson said.
Weisman stepping down came as a surprise to many in the industry given the executive's hand in helping steward Dunkin's successful rebrand, along with his work in areas like loyalty and brand partnerships. Other QSR restaurants, including McDonald's and Taco Bell, have recently moved to dismantle the CMO role entirely and split up marketing duties between smaller SVP roles.