Russ Klein Out as Arby's CMO, Search For Replacement Underway

Former BK Marketing Chief Led Agency Shift For Roast-Beef Chain

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Arby's Chief Marketing Officer Russ Klein has left the company.

Russ Klein
Russ Klein

In addition to Mr. Klein, senior VP-brand marketing and advertising Bob Kraut also exited the chain.

A spokesman from Arby's said Mr. Klein is "leaving the company to pursue other opportunities." Said the company in a statement: "During his tenure at the company, Russ's leadership supported significant accomplishments in the areas of brand positioning, advertising strategy and new product development."

The statement also said Mr. Kraut "has made the decision to leave Arby's," adding that "During his time at Arby's Bob led significant contributions to the Arby's brand, bringing to life brand positioning and advertising strategy through creative executions, promotions and events."

While it searches for a new CMO, Hala Moddelmog, president of Arby's, will lead the marketing department. CP&B remains the creative agency of record.

Mr. Klein joined Arby's in January 2012, replacing Steve Davis, who left Arby's in September 2011 after nearly three years in the CMO post. Mr. Klein has historically been very involved in ad agency relationships and has had a longstanding relationship with MDC Partners' CP&B. The shop worked with him when he was global CMO at Burger King. It was no surprise when, a month after Mr. Klein signed on at Arby's, the roast-beef chain switched its creative account from Omnicom's BBDO to CP&B without a review. BBDO's stint as Arby's creative agency was brief; it had won the account in December 2010.

At the time of Mr. Klein's hire, Ms. Moddelmog said: "We expect his deep knowledge of the restaurant business, his understanding of the highly competitive landscape, as well as his experience with franchise organizations to deliver outstanding results for Arby's."

But results never came. Arby's has been struggling with a protracted sales decline. Since 2008, when the chain reported nearly $3.46 billion in U.S. sales systemwide, sales have slid 3.8% to $2.95 billion in 2012. U.S. sales in 2011 were $3.03 billion.

Arby's in October rolled out a rebranding effort and campaign from CP&B that included a new logo and messaging to convince consumers of the food's freshness and position it more directly against Subway. It replaced the 2011 push by BBDO with the tagline "Good mood food."

Mr. Klein's relationship with CP&B goes back nearly a decade. During his tenure at Burger King, he shifted the creative account to CP&B in 2004 and worked with the agency until his departure from the burger chain five years later. Between his stints at Burger King and Arby's, Mr. Klein was a consultant.

Mr. Kraut joined Arby's as senior VP-marketing and advertising in December 2009, according to his LinkedIn profile. He came to the chain from Pizza Hut, which he joined in 2006 as VP-marketing communications. Prior to that, he held senior marketing positions at General Motors since 1995.

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