- Taco Bell on Dec. 2 named Sean Tresvant as global chief brand officer, effective Jan. 10, according to a press release. Tresvant has worked in marketing at Nike for nearly 15 years, most recently as CMO of its Jordan Brand.
- Tresvant will lead Taco Bell's efforts to "drive culture, initiate change and create impact," with a focus on omnichannel initiatives and digital customer touchpoints, per the release. At Nike, his remit included brand campaigns, product marketing, creative collaborations, athlete sponsorships, omnichannel marketplace design and social platforms; he also led Nike's Diversity Task Force.
- Taco Bell's appointment of a Nike veteran hints at the brand's priorities, as Nike and its Jordan Brand have seen digital revenue surge and have embraced social and gaming platforms to engage consumers around culture. Tresvant succeeds Nikki Lawson, who took the role in April 2020 but has decided to return to Sydney and pursue other opportunities, per the release.
Taco Bell's appointment of Sean Tresvant is another signal that the QSR brand is looking to burnish its reputation as not just a place for affordable Mexican food but as a cultural heavyweight with a cult-like following. The move comes months after the chain partnered with full-service marketing agency Cashmere as its culture agency of record to better help it engage with consumers in sports, fashion, gaming, music and beyond.
"The brand and its people are constantly — and consciously — pushing the limits on what it means to be a brand in today's rapidly evolving culture, and I'm excited to revolutionize alongside them," Tresvant said in the press release.
The new global chief brand officer spent more than a decade at Nike and has been CMO at Jordan Brand since July 2020. His achievements include shepherding the Emmy Award-winning documentary "The Last Dance," which dominated the cultural conversation when it aired last spring, and facilitating a Jordan Brand activation in Fortnite, a gaming platform to which the brand recently returned. These efforts demonstrate how brands can be part of culture on streaming and gaming platforms that younger consumers have flocked to.
The press release also highlights Tresvant's commitment to social justice and community impact. Along with heading Nike's Diversity Task Force, he helped bring back the Jordan Brand's Black Community Commitment Committee and worked to boost Nike Running in North America and create a local brand voice for Los Angeles. Meaningful action around social justice and community building has remained a priority over the past two years, amid a renewed push for racial justice and the ongoing effects of the pandemic.
Tresvant's remit includes not just traditional marketing and branding work but also a focus on omnichannel initiatives and digital customer touchpoints — two areas that speak to Taco Bell's overall business transformation. The chain has embraced drive-thru and digital ordering — trends accelerated by the pandemic — in its new store concepts. Meanwhile, parent company Yum Brands this year acquired the artificial intelligence unit of performance marketing firm Kvantum and conversational commerce developer Tictuk Technologies to shore up its e-commerce and data and analytics capabilities.
While Yum Brands beat earnings and revenue estimates in the third quarter, Taco Bell has struggled to recover late-night and breakfast sales that have been impacted by the pandemic, per CNBC. The chain's same-store sales rose 5% in the quarter and 8% on a two-year basis.
Along with the Taco Bell appointment, Yum Brands has shaken up the marketing department at KFC, naming another veteran of a culturally resonant brand, Nick Chavez — formerly senior vice president of sales, marketing and communications at Nintendo of America — as CMO, and signaling that it will drop longtime agency Wieden + Kennedy.