McDonald’s creates brand comms function led by Molly McKenna

The fast-food chain has brought together its U.S. and global communications external PR teams.

McDonald’s creates brand comms function led by Molly McKenna

CHICAGO: McDonald’s has consolidated its U.S. and global communications external PR teams under a newly created brand communications function, led by senior director of brand comms Molly McKenna. 

McKenna is reporting to McDonald’s chief communications officer Michael Gonda. The brand communications team will drive the needs of McDonald’s U.S. market, as well as its larger global business, overseeing “dynamic storytelling” for the chain, explained Gonda in an internal memo. 

The function includes holistic brand trust communications, partnering across global impact and led by director of brand trust comms Tess Mattingly; retail communications and affinity-focused PR, led by retail comms director Emily Lyons Peet; cultural and community communications, which will execute a more focused and deliberate comms strategy to earn trust with critical diverse communities and audiences, led by cultural and community comms director Heather Woodard; content development through McDonald’s Story & Culture Lab to tell its story across owned channels, led by Story & Culture Lab director Adam Hamilton; and U.S. field PR, led by field comms director Anne Christensen, which localizes McDonald’s story with grassroots programs.

“Whether we are communicating a corporate initiative, a brand initiative, an affinity initiative or a trust-driving initiative (and, increasingly, communicating these through programs that connect these dots for our audiences), we must tell the story through one brand voice,” Gonda wrote in an internal memo, explaining why the function was created. “That is especially true when we consider what we communicate to the consumers of our largest market. We need a structure that supports this strategy.” 

The brand communications function will also support McDonald’s Accelerating the Arches plan. Unveiled last November as McDonald’s growth strategy, Accelerating the Arches includes a refreshed purpose, updated values and growth pillars that build on its competitive advantages. 

The overall objective of the brand communications function is to strengthen McDonald’s communications team and more closely connect its work, while driving efficiencies and stronger cohesion.  

McKenna will also oversee measurement and insights to measure, monitor and chart McDonald’s communications impact, which will inform how it positions communications activities.   

McKenna’s previous responsibilities as McDonald’s senior director of U.S. external communications are being folded into her new role. She will continue to have a dedicated team focused on McDonald’s U.S. business. 

Gonda is staying in his role as chief communications officer and as a member of McDonald’s global impact leadership team, reporting to chief global impact officer Katie Fallon.

Along with McKenna, Gonda’s comms leadership team includes Artemis Hiss, senior director of leadership and business comms; Jason Greenspan, senior director of U.S. system comms; Jesse Lewin, senior director of media relations; and Nubia Murray, director of strategic planning and operations.

McDonald’s also restructured its global impact team this year, promoting Gonda from VP of global communications to CCO as David Tovar took on the expanded role of chief U.S. corporate relations officer. In August, Tovar left the restaurant chain to assume the role of SVP of communications and government relations at Grubhub.

McDonald’s has also promoted Pamela Goldstein to director of crisis communications; Amy Jamieson to director of U.S. media relations; and Morgan O’Marra to manager of U.S. media relations. In March, Michelle Green joined McDonald’s as director of corporate media relations. 

McDonald’s also created a customer experience team in July led by Manu Steijaert, which integrates the company’s data analytics, digital customer engagement, global marketing, global restaurant development and restaurant solutions teams. 

In September, McDonald’s hired Tariq Hassan to succeed Flatley as chief marketing and digital customer experience officer at McDonald’s U.S.A. He joined McDonald’s from Petco, where he served as chief marketing officer.

Next month, Morgan Flatley is taking on the role of McDonald’s global chief marketing officer. She will assume the role after having served as chief marketing and digital customer experience officer for McDonald’s U.S.A. and is replacing Alistair Macrow, who is advancing to CEO of the U.K. and Ireland and will report to Ian Borden, McDonald’s international president. 

Additionally, Paul Pomroy moved from his role as CEO of the U.K. and Ireland to corporate SVP of international operated markets.

In Q3, McDonald’s revenue jumped 14% to $6.2 billion, beating Wall Street’s forecast of $6 billion, according to analysts polled by FactSet. McDonald’s net income rose 22% to $2.1 billion in the quarter. McDonald’s U.S. prices were up 6% over the prior year in the quarter to cover rising wages and higher costs for commodities such as food and paper.

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