'MY JOB IS TO KEEP THIS BRAND HOT'
Entrepreneur US|Startups - Summer 2024
Taco Bell's new CEO is, in his words, "not the dictionary definition of a CEO." But he has a vision for how to keep their winning streak going.
JASON FEIFER
'MY JOB IS TO KEEP THIS BRAND HOT'

Everyone knows Taco Bell. But not everyone knows Sean Tresvant, who took over as CEO at the beginning of this year. And Tresvant likes it that way.

"I've never been one who does it for the limelight," says Tresvant. He doesn't go on TV to pontificate, and generally prefers that colleagues be interviewed instead of him.

"I'm probably the most introverted extrovert. I always tell people it's not about me. It's about the team. I don't need to get my bars up." Instead, Tresvant has spent his career raising the bar for great brands-spending time at Sports Illustrated and PepsiCo, rising to CMO for Nike's Jordan brand, and then joining Taco Bell in 2022 as its global chief brand officer. Now he's succeeded former Taco Bell CEO Mark King, who retired at the end of 2023, which means Tresvant has stepped into the hottest seat in the hottest brand in franchising, where attention will be hard to escape. But he knows his No. 1 mission: "My job, and our job as the Taco Bell team, is to keep this brand hot," says Tresvant.

How hot is Taco Bell? So hot that it's reached No. 1 on our Franchise 500 for the fourth year in a row-only the second brand to accomplish that in the ranking's 45-year history.

(The other was Subway.) So hot that unit growth has been 15% over the past three years, worldwide system sales grew 11% in 2023, and profit margins are 24% - a number that David Gibbs, CEO of Taco Bell's parent company Yum! Brands, called "industry-leading."

Tresvant has already turned up the heat since joining the brand by steering some of its recent attention-getting moves-like rallying Doja Cat and Dolly Parton to bring back Mexican Pizza (a beloved menu item that was discontinued during COVID), and partnering with LeBron James to "liberate" the trademark on "Taco Tuesday" (which was owned by rival Taco John's and Gregory's Restaurant & Bar, thus prohibiting anyone else from using the phrase).

This story is from the Startups - Summer 2024 edition of Entrepreneur US.

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This story is from the Startups - Summer 2024 edition of Entrepreneur US.

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