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04/09/02 . By Vivian Chu . Yahoo! News . U.S.A.
McDonald's Taps Global Marketing Officer
NEW YORK (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp. said on Wednesday that it has named Larry Light, a former advertising executive and branding expert, to fill the newly-created position of global chief marketing officer.
Light, who was most recently head of Arcature, a brand consulting company he founded in Stamford, Connecticut, will be in charge of McDonald's global marketing strategy and overall brand development. He will report to McDonald's Chief Executive Jack Greenberg, the company said in a statement.
Light's appointment comes as McDonald's, the world's No. 1 fast-food chain, is trying to reverse several quarters of disappointing results in several of its key markets.
Weak economies in Latin America and fears of mad cow disease in Japan -- which reported its fifth case of mad cow disease last month -- have hurt sales in those markets.
In the United States, McDonald's is struggling to overcome slowing sales due to fierce competition in a saturated fast-food market.
In addition to his duties as global marketing chief, Light will serve on the company's restaurant operating committee, the management team that is focused on expanding McDonald's brand, and on the enterprise strategy team, which focuses on companywide strategy, said a McDonald's spokeswoman.
Light has a doctorate in industrial psychology and has taught at New York University and various U.S. business schools, according to his biography on Arcature's Web site.
Prior to founding Arcature, Light was chief executive officer of the international division of Bates Advertising. He also was executive vice president for marketing and media services at BBDO Worldwide.
Light is a highly regarded marketing expert, said Mark DiMassimo, head of DiMassimo Brand Advertising in New York. But putting academic ideas into practice at the world's biggest restaurant company will be a huge challenge, particularly after heading a small consultancy, DiMassimo said.
"The biggest consulting firms are a lot smaller than the smallest fast-food chain," said DiMassimo. "He has his work cut out for him."
The selection of Light was seen as an unusual choice for McDonald's, which has a history of hiring from within.
"Normally for a position like this, a company would either promote someone from inside, or go out and hire a global marketing head from a similar company like Wendy's," said DiMassimo. "Instead McDonald's went out and hired a guru consultant with a PhD, which is an odd decision."
Wall Street analysts said that Light's appointment was positive news.
"Hiring someone outside the company is a change for McDonald's, and hopefully it will bring some fresh perspective about how to reinvigorate the U.S. and global business," said Lehman Brothers analyst Mitch Speiser. "In the U.S., inconsistent marketing messages has been a source of struggle for them."
Light's appointment follows the hiring of several marketing executives for McDonald's operations in the United States, its biggest market. In August, the company promoted Bill Lamar, a vice president and manager in the Atlanta region, to head U.S. marketing.
Earlier, McDonald's brought back Paul Schrage, a marketing guru who
retired in 1997 and created the company's well-known "You
Deserve a Break Today" campaign, as a consultant to help revive its
domestic marketing efforts.