Delivering the Right Marketing Leader for a Brand Turnaround

Leading quick service restaurant case study showing a man and woman speaking


The surge in demand for take-out and delivery during the pandemic boosted business for Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) that had the ecommerce, logistics and resources in place to meet demand. While many QSRs decided to simply ride that advantage through the year, one market leader took the initiative to doubled down on repositioning and reenergizing their brand.

In 2018, the company had been hit with a public relations firestorm and was struggling to reverse the erosion of their reputation. A new Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer worked quickly to improve the company’s image and lead its turnaround. This included recruiting marketing leaders to rebuild the trust of consumers and drive meaningful, relevant innovation. They identified the mission-critical role of Senior Vice President of Brand Experience Activation to provide leadership in the brand turnaround.

“When O’Connell Group recruiters call, the best candidates call back because they know the opportunity will be relevant and meaningful” – Vice President

This role required a leader to navigate the current challenges as well as build toward the future by developing a cohesive, high-performance marketing team to take the brand to a new level. The leader would need classic consumer packaged goods (CPG) training, along with success in translating their CPG experience to consumer-facing companies with relevance to the restaurant industry. The right fit also depended on them having the personality and management style that empowers teams to effect change.


Due to the urgency of the situation, the company tapped O’Connell Group to engage in the search, based on the firm’s deep relationships, extensive talent network and the strategic – yet efficient – search work they had delivered for the CEO’s previous QSR organization. O’Connell Group’s streamlined process is built to ensure that the search moves with urgency, but without sacrificing a rigorous dive into the talent pool. They quickly took aim at finding top candidates that “hit the bullseye” for skills, experience and fit.

With an average of over 15 years of experience, the firm’s recruiters started the search with engines fully running, creating a tight universe of candidates based on the wealth of candidate data and relationships built over time. These trusted connections enabled the recruiters to quickly surface top candidates, who were both highly qualified – and – excited about the opportunity.

At the next level of assessment, the client manager spent time with each presented candidate to objectively evaluate their candidacy. She skillfully “peeled back the onion” to reveal how well they fit the role, culture and expectations of the client. Having developed a strong client relationship and clear understanding of the hiring company’s requirements, the client manager effectively, confidently and successfully screened for the best-of-the-best to be presented to the client in the slate of finalists.


In less than 90 days, O’Connell Group completed the search from open to acceptance, despite conducting the search during the holiday season and height of the pandemic. The successful candidate advanced – even without direct restaurant experience. They had the strong foundation of classic training at a Fortune 50 CPG company, followed by experience in durable goods and with a major consulting firm. Their track record included a powerful brand turnaround success within the hospitality industry, making them an excellent choice for this critical leadership role.

Despite the many challenges and opportunities that QSRs encountered during the pandemic, this leadership team drove forward to elevate their reputation far beyond its pre-crisis level. They were recognized in the industry as 2020’s Most Transformational Brand and reported 12% growth in revenues. With O’Connell Group’s help they built the marketing team with the skills to rebuild their company and reflect the quality brand that consumers love and trust.

Learn More About Recruitment Timeliness and Efficiency

People are key to building successful brands and achieving your mission-critical growth objectives. Please call or email us to benefit from our experience helping companies efficiently and effectively hire talented professionals who fit.