Starbucks Taps Pizza Hut Vet for U.S. Marketing Role

Former Digital Marketing Director Bernard Acoca Joins Company as VP

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CHICAGO ( -- In the latest in a series of moves to strengthen Starbucks' marketing department, the company confirmed that Bernard Acoca will join as VP-U.S. marketing.

Mr. Acoca, who begins work Monday, will report to Terry Davenport, senior VP-global brand and creative. In his new role, Mr. Acoca will lead the U.S. marketing and promotions team, with his primary responsibility planning and implementing U.S. marketing strategies and programs.

This is the latest in several marketing moves at Starbucks, which is showing early signs of a turnaround. The company posted solid earnings gains in January, and its first same-store sales gains in two years, as many quick-service chains have continued to post declines. Starbucks named Annie Scrivner-Young global CMO in September. She was previously CMO at Quaker.

Mr. Acoca spent eight years at Pizza Hut, most recently as senior director-digital marketing, customer relationship management and promotions. He joined the company in 2002 as director-field marketing and sales in the Western territory. He moved up to national director-brand marketing, with responsibility for research and development, and then national director-field marketing and sales, overseeing all local marketing and sales initiatives. While at Yum Brands, he also did stints at KFC and Taco Bell in a variety of retail marketing functions including merchandising, field marketing, new product marketing and promotions.

Pizza Hut's digital-marketing efforts have been a bright spot for the chain -- it boasts a popular iPhone app and has seen solid increases in online sales.

Mr. Acoca did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

He takes over for Brady Brewer, who is now VP-customer loyalty. Mr. Brewer's move appears to underscore the importance of the chain's burgeoning loyalty program. Starbucks released a revamped loyalty card late last year. CEO Howard Schultz told investors during the last earnings call that within a few months of launch, the company had doubled enrollments compared to the previous year. A nine-year company vet, Mr. Brewer has worked his way through the marketing ranks. According to his LinkedIn profile, he began as a marketing manager in 2001, and later served as director-U.S. marketing and promotions and director-global marketing and promotions. He was most recently VP-marketing strategy and promotions. In the past two years alone, Mr. Brewer has worked on launches for Pike Place Roast, Via Ready Brew and the chain's partnership with Project RED.

Pizza Hut confirmed that Armando Garza has assumed Mr. Acoca's responsibilities. Mr. Garza was previously a Frito-Lay marketing director.

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