KFC'S MARKETING CHIEF STEPS DOWN

John Gilbert Leaves as Chicken Chain Conducts Agency Review

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- With its $200 million creative advertising account in review, KFC's marketing chief is leaving the company, a spokeswoman for the fast-food chain confirmed.

The spokeswoman said John Gilbert,

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the chief marketing officer, "is leaving to pursue a new career direction." An internal memo dated Aug. 13 and sent to the KFC system first announced Mr. Gilbert's departure. Mr. Gilbert joined KFC in September 2001 soon after the chain launched its campaign featuring actor Jason Alexander and the tagline "There's fast food. Then there's KFC."

Roster agency shootout
Meanwhile, presentations for the creative shootout between Yum roster agencies Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, Chicago, are set for the week of Sept. 15. The agencies will pitch KFC's National Council and Advertising Co-op.

BBDO is KFC's incumbent, while FCB handles sibling Taco Bell. John R. Neal, vice chairman and franchisee of the NCAC, earlier this month said KFC is hoping to "get some of the mystery dust" that has helped make Taco Bell the best-performing Yum chain.

Earlier this month, KFC also brought in Scott Bergren and Joaquin Pelaez from its international unit to help turn the business around. Mr. Bergren's interim title is executive vice president and chief marketing and food innovation officer.

The review came after the chain rejected a concept presented by BBDO in June. The agency borrowed from the old joke about the chicken crossing the road to illustrate customers' preference for KFC. But in 1989, KFC used a "Cross the Road" campaign from former agency Young & Rubicam, New York, that franchisees disliked, Mr. Neal said. He noted, too, that rival Wendy's International is using a "Why people cross the road" effort for its chicken nuggets.

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