Wendy's names Esposito communications leader

Wendy's has named a new head of communications to succeed 18-year veteran John Barker.

Wendy's flagship restaurant in Dublin, Ohio [Photo credit: Wendy's Facebook page]
Wendy's flagship restaurant in Dublin, Ohio [Photo credit: Wendy's Facebook page]

DUBLIN, OH: Wendy’s has appointed Liliana Esposito as CCO.

She started in the role on Monday, succeeding John Barker, who has decided to leave the company after 18 years. Barker will work closely with Esposito to help with the transition, the statement said.

Wendy’s communications function has a team of 20 staffers. Her responsibilities include internal and external communications, media relations, crisis and issues management, and corporate affairs.

Reporting to Wendy's president and CEO Emil Brolick, Esposito will serve as a member of the company's leadership team.

 "[Barker has left the CCO position because] he feels the timing is right – with the Wendy’s brand transformation well under way – for him to move to the next stage of his career," said Wendy’s spokesperson Bob Bertini. "[Barker] has been teaching graduate-level classes after work at the Fisher School of Business at The Ohio State University, and is looking forward to continuing at the institution…as an adjunct professor." 

Esposito was most recently VP of corporate communications and public affairs for Dean Foods, which owns dairy brands including Land O Lakes, Garelick Farms, and Tuscan. After assuming the role in 2012, Esposito served as a member of the executive leadership team and president of Dean’s philanthropic foundation. She joined the company in 2010 as senior director of public affairs, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Before Dean Foods, Esposito was an SVP at Mercury Public Affairs, public affairs manager for confectionary company Mars, and a senior associate at Burson-Marsteller.

Wendy’s revenue fell 13% to $523.2 million during the first quarter of 2014, compared with the prior year. It attributed the loss to the sale of some company-owned restaurant locations.

Wendy’s recently unveiled a Tuscan Chicken sandwich on ciabatta bread along with several other higher-priced menu items. To promote the sandwich, the brand created a three-part video series that paid tribute to 1960s Italian cinema.

The fast-food chain includes more than 6,500 franchise and company-operated restaurants in the US and worldwide.

This story was updated on June 3 with quotes from Wendy's.

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