Burger King hires Ellie Doty as first-ever North American CMO

Linda J. Dodson

Dive Brief:

  • Burger King has hired Ellie Doty as its first ever North America CMO, according to Adweek.
  • Doty will serve as regional CMO and report to Chris Finazzo, president of Burger King North America, when she takes on the new post in the company’s Miami offices later this summer, per the report.
  • Doty comes to Burger King from Chili’s where she spent two years as VP of marketing and was promoted to CMO last September. Doty has also held marketing leadership positions at Yum Brands’ Long John Silver’s, Taco Bell and KFC, per her LinkedIn page.

Dive Insight:

Burger King hiring a new North American CMO is a sign that the brand may be looking for targeted marketing leadership in the region, as businesses are struggling to adapt to the economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.global CMO Fernando Machado 

Other brands including competitor McDonald’s have been beefing up their marketing leadership as well, after a period of the CMO role seeming to go out of fashion. Alistair Macrow, former CMO of McDonald’s international business, was recently promoted to global CMO after the role was left empty for almost a year. Additionally, Goldman Sachs tapped AT&T chief brand officer Fiona Carter as its first-ever CMO, hinting that marketing and communications will become more prominent for the company.

Burger King’s hiring of Doty, who is known for her expertise in brand strategy, creative menu ideas and creating digital and data-driven marketing programs, suggests that these elements could play an important part in the brand’s marketing during the next phase of the COVID-19 crisis. Her position will include a range of tasks such as “guest insights, media, advertising and social media,” per Adweek. At Chili’s, Doty was credited with strengthening the brand’s value proposition by offering value-oriented menu items, as well as strengthening the brand’s data and digital marketing initiatives.

Burger King has been known for its edgy marketing such as promoting its burgers getting moldy in order to show the lack of preservatives, as well as targeting McDonald’s customers with the “Whopper Detour” stunt that offered mobile coupons to customers within 600 feet of McDonald’s locations. The promotion pushed consumers to order within the BK app and pick up their food at the closest location. However, the pandemic might spell the end of competitive sparring between QSRs as divisiveness as a marketing message loses its appeal for some, leading Burger King to look for new tactics.

During the pandemic, Burger King pushed app pickup through TV advertising that called on consumers to be heroes by staying home. Promoting app ordering will likely be a strategy that remains as the coronavirus continues and consumers are looking for ways to have contactless experiences with brands.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated who Doty will report to as CMO. She will report to Chris Finazzo, president of Burger King North America, according to a spokesperson.

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