Dunkin’ promotes architect behind next-gen push to CMO

    • Dunkin’ has appointed Jill McVicar Nelson as chief marketing officer overseeing functions including advertising, brand marketing, digital marketing and product innovation, per an announcement from parent Inspire Brands.
    • The executive has been with the chain since 2011 and was a key architect of its five-year Blueprint for Growth that encompassed a major rebrand, bigger push into digital and menu revamp. On the latter front, Nelson spearheaded efforts to win over younger consumers through the introduction of offerings like cold brew with cold foam and avocado toast.
    • Nelson most recently held the title of vice president of marketing strategy, a mantle she took on in 2020 amid a larger reorganization of Dunkin’s marketing department. Dunkin’ is looking inward for marketing leadership after previously pulling from outside the restaurant category for a CMO.

    Dunkin’ is making a safe bet in promoting Nelson to CMO as the brand tries to navigate an industry reshaped by the pandemic. The executive is a long-time company veteran and played an important part in developing a growth plan that has altered many aspects of how the business operates and markets itself. She will report directly to Dunkin’ President Scott Murphy.

    Jill McVicar Nelson played a key role in designing Dunkin’s Blueprint for Growth plan.

    Retrieved from Inspire Brands on September 22, 2022


    The Blueprint for Growth, first implemented in 2017, eventually saw Dunkin’ drop “Donuts” from its name in recognition of consumers gravitating more toward menu items like coffee and breakfast sandwiches. Mobile and digital ordering capabilities — including restaurants designed specifically to accommodate those channels — have also been a part of the strategy and took fresh precedence amid COVID-19. Dunkin’ in late 2020 was acquired by Inspire Brands in another gear shift.

    While Nelson has worked on a range of initiatives during her 11-year tenure at Dunkin’, product innovation around iced beverages and diverse food offerings received a special call-out in the announcement. The company positioned these moves as a means of attracting the “next generation of guests,” speaking to how Dunkin’ could be prioritizing efforts to reach Gen Zers who have a clear preference for cold brew and snacking. Other restaurant chains have made bigger overtures to the younger demographic that is digitally native and has seen growing purchasing power.

    “Jill’s intricate knowledge of the Dunkin’ business and understanding of product trends and consumer behaviors will help us continue to define the brand’s future growth strategy,” said Murphy in a statement.

    Nelson is filling a chief marketer slot that has been vacant at Dunkin’ since March, when Rafael Acevedo left the company. Acevedo was brought on in June 2021 from The Coca-Cola Company following a two-year search. At the time, hiring an outsider indicated Dunkin’ was adjusting its thinking around marketing as the economy reopened. Under Acevdeo’s brief tenure, the brand switched creative agencies to Anomaly after several years with BBDO Worldwide.

    The number of women leading marketing at major brands also continues to grow. Female CMOs outnumbered their male counterparts for the first time last year, according to consultancy Spencer Stuart, though the average tenure for the position still lags the rest of the C-suite.


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