Rick Dow's Departure Begins Shakeup in Marketing Ranks

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Burger King Corp.'s No. 2 marketing executive is leaving the fast-food chain as new CEO Brad Blum begins a shakeup in the marketing ranks.

The burger giant today said Rick Dow, senior vice president of marketing and sales, will leave his post in early March, citing he wanted to be closer to his family in Minneapolis.

"Rick has accomplished much and has worked tirelessly for the Burger King brand since joining the company," Chris Clouser, executive vice president and chief global marketing officer, said in a statement.

Successor named
Succeeding Mr. Dow is Rick Brown,

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who most recently was vice president of field marketing and sales manager. Mr. Brown joined Burger King in December 2001 from Yum Brands' Taco Bell. He now will be the chief liaison with the company's franchisee Marketing Advisory Committee, and will oversee product marketing, field marketing, promotions, merchandising, marketing communications and sponsorships.

Other appointments
The company also tapped Gladding Markunas as senior vice president of consumer insights and strategic branding, a new post. Ms. Markunas was vice president of consumer insights at Darden Restaurants' Olive Garden, where she worked for Mr. Blum.

Ms. Markunas and Mr. Brown will report to Mr. Clouser.

In addition, the company promoted Patty Campbell to vice president of business planning and pricing from senior director-marketing research. Ms. Campbell; Dana Frydman, vice president of product strategy and alliances; and Harriett Gallu, director of consumer understanding, will report to Ms. Markunas.

Mr. Blum last month joined Burger King as CEO from Darden Restaurants, where he was vice chairman, following the sale of Burger King by parent Diageo to a consortium led by Texas Pacific Group. Mr. Blum replaced John Dasburg, then chairman, CEO and president, who retained his position as chairman.

Moved swiftly
Two weeks after his appointment, Mr. Blum, known for his revival of Darden's Olive Garden, named Robert Nilsen as Burger Kings' president. Mr. Nilsen was lured over from Taco Bell, where as chief operating officer he helped to revive that brand.

Since joining Burger King in 2001 specifically to prepare the company for its separation from Diageo, Messrs. Dasburg and Clouser's tenure at the company is said to be limited now that the deal closed. Given an 18-month plan to position the company for a better sales price, the two installed a close-knit cadre of executives from former posts, including Mr. Dow. Not surprisingly, since the sale speculation has swirled as to when Mr. Clouser and his team would begin to disperse.

"We got a lot done in the time we were there and we ignited a lot of good progress," Mr. Dow told Adage.com in an interview. "We posted our first positive comps in over seven years. I'm proud of the team we put together, and I'm really proud of that." He said he is considering several opportunities but said it was premature to disclose any details.

Numerous executives close to Burger King predict that Mr. Clouser also is expected to exit the company within the coming weeks.

A spokesman said he wasn't aware of any plans for Mr. Clouser to leave the company.

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