Jano Cabrera exits McDonald's

The fast food chain's comms SVP plans to spend time with his newborn son.

Jano Cabrera
Jano Cabrera

CHICAGO: McDonald’s SVP of U.S. comms, global media and PR Jano Cabrera has exited the company.

The former Democratic Party communications director left McDonald’s last month. A replacement has not been named, he said.

Cabrera explained he is spending time with his son, who was born in February, before he moves onto his next venture.

"I'm looking forward to many Happy Meals in the future, but as a customer," said Cabrera. "For now, I'm grateful for this opportunity to spend time with [my son]. It's never too early to teach the important nuances of corporate communications. It helps lull him to sleep."

Cabrera, who was a PRWeek Power List 2018 honoree, led media relations, brand reputation, consumer engagement and oversaw the entirety of the U.S. market at McDonald’s. He has been shaking things up at the company since he joined in 2015.

McDonald’s now works with three agency partners, Golin, WE, and Purple Strategies, each focused on a specific area of storytelling. From 1956 until last year, McDonald’s had principally worked with Golin.

He also switched up McDonald’s in-house comms group. It is now made up of subject matter experts. A recent hire was Chobani veteran Michael Gonda, who joined McDonald’s as VP of global communications in February.

In January, Cabrera gave PRWeek the inside story on why McDonald’s stays silent in the face of social media attacks by competitors such as Wendy's and Burger King.

Robert Gibbs, McDonald’s EVP of corporate relations and chief communications officer, told PRWeek in an emailed statement that Cabrera has made "significant contributions" to the chain over the last three years.

"[Cabrera] led the U.S. market through a reimagining of the communications function," said Gibbs. "His imprint is undeniable, from the active involvement of communications to drive our business by highlighting the unique menu offerings at McDonald’s, to the trust building of announcing revolutionary ingredient changes."

Previously, Cabrera was worldwide VP for Burson-Marsteller, serving in various roles for eight years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Before that, he founded Carthage Group Communications, a strategic communications and issue advocacy firm. Among others, the firm advised the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grameen Bank and America Votes, then the nation’s largest political action organization, according to his bio on McDonald’s website.

Other highlights from earlier in Cabrera’s career include working as communications director for the Democratic Party; and as comms director for the Recording Industry Association of America during the Napster trial and its transition into the digital marketplace.

Ginger Porter, Midwest president at Golin, a firm that worked closely with Cabrera, said he challenged her to create programs that delivered business impact by raising the bar on earning attention and driving sales.

"As McDonald's agency for more than 60 years, we’ve seen a lot of exciting changes," Porter said. "We can truly say that [Cabrera] was one of our very best and most strategic partners."

This story was updated on April 18 with comment from Porter.

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