CHICAGO: Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary for President Barack Obama and global chief communications officer for McDonald’s, has joined Bully Pulpit Interactive as a senior counselor.
Gibbs started in the newly created role this month and is based in Chicago. He is reporting to agency president and founder Andrew Bleeker. Gibbs will be focused on executive communications, especially crisis comms, and social impact efforts for companies and brands.
Gibbs told PRWeek that he was a client of BPI’s when he was McDonald’s top communications executive.
“I got to really see their level of work in an impressive way and in the projects they helped us on. I saw them do work that was, quite frankly, better than some of the biggest ad firms on the planet,” he said. “So I have previous relationships with partners and some of the staff there and given how I felt about them and the level of work they did, I was excited to talk to them.”
Gibbs also said the way Bully Pulpit manages its clients was a selling point, with senior leaders working directly with them. He also praised the firm’s tech-savvy approach to comms and the agency’s history, which also has roots in the first Obama campaign. Bleeker led digital marketing for both of Obama's presidential campaigns and was a senior adviser to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to the firm’s website.
“This firm dates back to the experience many of us had in politics and is using the same digital capabilities and the same one-on-one relationship-building tactics that worked so well in 2008 in politics but bringing it to the forefront for brands and causes,” Gibbs said.
After Gibbs left McDonald’s last October, the company split his duties between Michael Gonda, VP of global communications, and VP of U.S. comms David Tovar. McDonald’s again reshuffled its communications team in February.
Prior to joining McDonald’s, Gibbs cofounded and ran Incite Agency, which was acquired by Bully Pulpit in 2016, alongside fellow former Obama aide Ben LaBolt. Gibbs was also the first White House press secretary of Obama’s presidency and previously a top communications aide on the 2008 campaign. After stepping down as the White House’s top spokesman in early 2011, he also worked on Obama’s 2012 reelection push.
Last September, Bully Pulpit acquired Aperture Strategies, a public affairs firm owned by veteran political operative Scott Mulhauser.
This story was updated to clarify Bleeker's responsibilities for the Obama campaigns.