Search Begins for Successor

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- The chief marketing officer of Wendy's International is scaling back his role and the company has begun a search for his successor, the burger chain said today.

Executive vice president of marketing,

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Don Calhoon, is moving into semiretirement and will assist in the search for his replacement, who will report to Wendy's North American president and chief operating officer, Tom Mueller.

26-year company veteran
Mr. Calhoon is a 26-year company veteran who in January moved his residence from Ohio, where Wendy's headquarters is located, to Hilton Head, S.C. The move raised early questions about his long-term tenure with the No. 3 burger chain. At the time, Mr. Calhoon dismissed speculation that the move was setting up a succession in the marketing department.

But in June, Wendy's surprised employees and agencies when it unexpectedly elevated two executives, Bob Levite and Mary Ann Pilotte, to senior vice president in a rare departmental realignment. Mr. Levite heads the creative, brand marketing and media functions, while Ms. Pilotte heads marketing planning, analysis, consumer research and field marketing functions.

Retains recruiting firm
The company has now retained executive recruiting firm Russell Reynolds to handle the search for a new top marketing officer. After the new executive vice president is hired, Mr. Calhoon will work with Chairman-CEO Jack Schuessler on enterprise marketing efforts, the company said.

"Wendy's marketing has a long and successful track record. Don has provided excellent leadership, strategies and processes while building a strong team," Mr. Schuessler said in a statement.

Strong sales prediction
Mr. Schuessler said the company is pleased with the "Mr. Wendy" advertising campaign (in which a man, claiming to work for the chain "unofficially," tries to persuade people he sees to eat at Wendy's) and is getting positive comments from consumers. The campaign was created by Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York. Mr. Schuessler predicted one of Wendy's "best years in sales growth with same-store sales for the first six months of 2004 up a robust 7.4% at our Wendy's company restaurants."

Sales at most fast-food chains have begun to slow, however, and Wendy's posted a 4.2% same-store sales gain during the second quarter.

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