McDonald's hires Sprint comms leader David Tovar as it adds to in-house team

The fast-food chain is splitting the duties of former comms SVP Jano Cabrera and making several appointments.

CHICAGO: McDonald’s has hired David Tovar as VP of U.S. communications amid a string of changes to its in-house communications team.

Tovar is set to start in the role on July 1, reporting to Robert Gibbs, EVP and chief communications officer at McDonald’s. Tovar’s core responsibilities will include overseeing U.S. brand engagement and U.S. system communications. The company has also promoted Molly McKenna to senior director, leading U.S. brand engagement; Jason Greenspan is serving as senior director, leading U.S. system communications.

"I couldn’t be more excited to join one of the most iconic brands in the world and be part of an amazing team that gets to help tell the McDonald’s story every day," Tovar said.

Gibbs said via email that he is a "big, big fan of [Tovar’s] and am excited that he’s agreed to come join our team."

"He’s passionate about what he does, has tremendous experience that builds on the work we’ve been doing and is going to be a great addition to our exceptional U.S. team," he said.

Tovar’s hire followed the departure of Jano Cabrera, SVP of U.S. comms for global media and PR, in March. The company is splitting Cabrera’s former responsibilities, such as overseeing field communications, media relations and aspects of corporate comms. The chain is placing media relations under corporate communications, which will report to Michael Gonda, VP of global communications, who joined the company in February, while brand engagement and systems communications reports to Tovar.

Other recent appointments at McDonald’s include Dionne Parker as lead of corporate relations for international markets, reporting to Gibbs; Jesse Lewin to the newly created role of senior director of corporate communications, reporting to Gonda; Danielle Cupp as director of CEO and financial communications, reporting to Gonda; and Artemis Hiss to the new role of senior director, leading global leadership, internal and strategic communications, reporting to Gonda.

Last year, Cabrera reorganized McDonald’s in-house comms group. The fast-food chain primarily 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.

McDonald’s Q1 earnings beat expectations, despite net sales being down 4% to $4.96 billion. Global same-store sales were up 5.4% in the period, according to CNBC.

Tovar is set to join the company from Sprint, where he has worked since 2015. Most recently he led communications for the telecommunications company as SVP of corporate communications. Before Sprint, Tovar worked at Walmart for eight years, most recently as comms VP. He was a PRWeek 40 Under 40 honoree in 2013.

After Tovar’s exit, Sprint’s communications team will report to Deeanne King, chief HR officer, on an interim basis.

Sprint and T-Mobile are in the process of a $26 billion merger, for which the regulatory approval process has been going on for 14 months. If finalized, the two telecomms’ communications teams will be combined and a leader for the merged team will be appointed. If the deal is not approved, Sprint president and CEO Michel Combes will pick a team leader, a source familiar with the matter told PRWeek.

"I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to lead communications at Sprint during one of the most transformational periods in the company’s rich history," Tovar said.

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