Chipotle names Chris Brandt CMO

The former Bloomin’ Brands and Taco Bell executive will join Brian Niccol at the burrito chain.

Brian Niccol is already putting his stamp on Chipotle Mexican Grill.

The burrito chain on Tuesday named Chris Brandt its new chief marketing officer, less than a week after the departure of Mark Crumpacker, who had held the title of chief marketing and strategy officer.  

Brandt had been executive vice president and chief brand officer at Bloomin’ Brands, the owner of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.

Chris Brandt

Before that, he was chief marketing and brand officer for Taco Bell, working under Niccol, who led that chain before he was named Chipotle CEO last month. Brandt will officially join Chipotle on April 2. 

Niccol called Brandt an “extremely talented and effective marketing executive.”

“Having worked with Chris in the past, I have seen firsthand his ability to generate sales overnight and build brands over time,” Niccol said in a statement, saying that Brandt’s experience “makes him an ideal fit for our leadership team at Chipotle.”

At Taco Bell, Brandt oversaw some of the chain’s most popular new products, including Doritos Locos Tacos and the Quesalupa, and new dayparts such as breakfast and Happier Hour. He also led various media and sponsorship programs.

Before Taco Bell, Brandt held positions with Odwalla/Coca-Cola and General Mills.

“I have admired the Chipotle brand as a consumer and marketer over the years,” Brandt said in a statement, saying he was excited to help “reignite the brand and increase relevance with consumers.”

The move comes as Chipotle overhauls leadership in a bid to improve its sales and profitability. Company founder Steve Ells announced plans to step aside as CEO late last year, and the chain hired Niccol away from Taco Bell.

Niccol, who himself had been a marketing executive, is expected to make significant changes in the way Chipotle communicates with customers, given Taco Bell’s success in that arena. The departure of Crumpacker and the hiring of Brandt make that effort clear.  

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