Niccol said Taco Bell was shifting from a "food as fuel" restaurant chain to a "food experience" chain.
Chipotle founder Steve Ells, who served as its chief executive, will become executive chairman. "The Board is confident that Brian's passion and skillset ideally position him to make the bold moves needed to improve operations and take the company to the next level, all while remaining true to our objective and the values that are essential to our customers".
No doubt, Chipotle is looking for Niccol's magic marketing touch to boost the Denver-based brand during challenging times.
For Bloomberg, Leslie Patton and Craig Giammona report that "a key factor will be how much room Niccol will be given to maneuver and make changes, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Michael Halen".
Ackman has been telling his own investors that Chipotle has enormous potential by innovating its menu and improving customers' digital experience.
Niccol joined Taco Bell in 2011 and served as president from 2013 to 2014.
But the average consumer might be put off by the hire considering Chipotle built its brand around using more natural, wholesome and fresh ingredients than fast-food competitors such as Taco Bell.
Mr Niccol started at Yum!
"I want to thank Brian for his leadership and focus on always keeping Taco Bell culturally relevant, innovative and accessible for customers", he said in a release. "In addition, Niccol will bring his experience with digital innovation, having introduced mobile ordering and payment across Taco Bell's 7,000 locations in the USA", writes Sarah Whitten for CNBC.com. He also took aim at Chipotle's customers, starting a higher-end Cantina chain and launching a healthier Cantina menu at Taco Bell.
Ms. Felss Masino joined Taco Bell in January from Mattel, with previous experience at Starbucks and Sprinkles Cupcakes.
As President of Taco Bell International, Liz Williams is responsible for the brand strategy and performance of the International business. Prior to this role, Williams was the Taco Bell CFO, where the brand delivered six years of industry-leading sales, profit and brand growth under her financial leadership, according to the release.
Niccol began his career at Procter & Gamble where he spent 10 years in various brand management positions.
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