Virgin Names Former Wendy's CMO Ian Rowden to Head Marketing

After Three Years Running Saatchi's Asia Network, Aussie Returns to Marketer Side

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Virgin Group has named Ian Rowden, chairman-CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Asia Pacific, as its new group chief marketing officer.

Ian Rowden, Virgin Group
Ian Rowden, Virgin Group

Mr. Rowden, an Australian who started his career at Coca-Cola in 1980, has moved between ad agencies and marketers throughout his career. He is probably best known as a marketer, from his stints in the U.S. as CMO of Wendy's International and VP-worldwide advertising at Coca-Cola. At Virgin, he will be based in all four of the group's main offices in Geneva, London, New York and Sydney.

Virgin Group's priority for Mr. Rowden is to drive international expansion, focusing on new markets and fast-growing territories including Latin America. His focus will be on the $18 billion group's four diverse core areas: media and telecoms, financial services, transport, and health and fitness. Within the transport division alone, holdings include airlines, U.K. train routes, and a hot-air balloon business.

In a statement, Mr. Rowden said, "The Virgin brand touches consumers all over the world. It was the opportunity to drive further growth of this incredible brand that attracted me to the Virgin Group. I look forward to working with Richard [Branson, Virgin's founder] and the team as we explore new ventures for Virgin around the globe."

Mr. Rowden was exec VP-CMO of Wendy's from 2004-2008. The year before he left Wendy's , he awarded Saatchi & Saatchi the fast feeder's $435 million ad account. Two months after departing Wendy's , he joined Saatchi to run the network's Asia operations.

At Virgin, Mr. Rowden replaces Group Brand Director Catherine Salway, who left in April after 15 years to travel and set up her own business. He will also take on additional duties, working as part of the senior management team in charge of developing the group internationally.

Mr. Rowden is the first senior hire by Virgin Group's David Baxby and Josh Bayliss, who were both promoted to joint CEO roles in July. Mr. Rowden was at Coca-Cola for eight years before joining Power Brewing in Brisbane, and then moving on to become managing partner of DDB Sydney.

He then returned to Coca-Cola as VP-marketing for the South Pacific region, and, in 1995, he was promoted to VP-director of worldwide advertising based in Atlanta. In 2000, he became CMO of Callaway golf before joining Wendy's .

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