McDonald's: The CMO's Retiring, Long Live The CMO

by , Nov 30, 2007, 5:00 AM
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McDonald's has named 18-year company veteran Neil Golden as its new chief marketing officer, succeeding Bill Lamar, who will retire effective March 30. Lamar had been with the company for 22 years. The choice surprised no one.

Most recently vice president of marketing for McDonald's USA, speculation had centered on Golden as Lamar's possible successor. Golden joined the company in 1989 as a regional marketing supervisor for the Indianapolis region. In his most recent position, Golden was responsible for new initiatives, identifying emerging trends and strategic planning and ethnic marketing.

"For any current or aspiring marketer, the CMO job at McDonald's is the equivalent of the elusive brass ring," said Golden in a statement.

"It's humbling to think about the leadership marketing campaigns produced for this great brand during the last 50 years. However, because we have so many passionate, creative and tremendously talented marketing professionals working on our business, I am absolutely confident we'll continue to surprise and delight our customers in ways that are fun and uniquely McDonald's."

Lamar, who had been the company's U.S. CMO since 2002, was also responsible for new product development--he recently promoted the new McSkillet breakfast burrito in a Web cast with journalists earlier this week--as well as business research for the company.

"Bill's contributions to our brand are simply too vast to attempt to quantify," Don Thompson, President of McDonald's USA, said in a statement. "What Bill has effectively done in his own unique and quiet way is leave an indelible mark on our brand that will last for generations to come. Brand McDonald's has benefited greatly by his contributions."

A popular and engaging public speaker, Lamar was on the McDonald's management team that developed and implemented the company's so-called "Plan To Win," which led to the turnaround of the McDonald's business in 2003 and continues to build momentum today, said the company. That team also developed the company's first global advertising campaign and unifying tagline, "I'm lovin' it."

In the U.S. company, Lamar was responsible for tailoring that tagline and the creative executions for relevance in the U.S. market. As head of new product development, Lamar oversaw the development of several new menu items, including a line of salads and the McGriddle breakfast sandwich. Lamar also worked on the operations side of the business, and spent five years as general manager of the 700-store Atlanta region before moving into a national marketing position in August 2002.

"The health and trajectory of McDonald's business continues on a path to a bright and prosperous future," said Lamar in a statement. "It's a good time for me and my wife to turn the page knowing the brand we love is in such a good place."

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