In announcing his retirement as President and Chief Executive Officer of McDonald’s Corporation, Don Thompson said in a statement that “there is a time and season for everything.” The Board of Directors of the restaurant giant apparently agreed, as a wave of restructuring was also instituted with layoffs taking place in its African American Marketing unit.
Rob Jackson, Director of African American Marketing, was part of a round of layoffs that included more than 100 McDonald’s employees. Jackson has been with the company for 13 years, joining in 2002 after 16 years with Burrell Communications, McDonald’s agency for African American advertising, for 16 years. A placement has yet to be announced,
Steve Easterbrook, 47 years old, who started with McDonald’s in 1993 and is currently chief global brand officer, will succeed Thompson on March 1, becoming the company’s third CEO in the past decade.
McDonald’s has long been held up as an exemplary company in the practice of African American consumer marketing. The fast food firm declared years ago that its insights into ethnic markets would lead to company’s strategies in all areas of marketing. However, when McDonald’s Chief Marketing Officer, Neal Golden, left the firm a year ago, concern was raised about the future direction for marketing.
Earlier this month McDonald’s new Chief Marketing Officer, Deborah Wahl explained the company’s new branding vision. “We’re moving from a philosophy of “billions served” to “billions heard,” said Wahl in a video explaining the new direction. “Starting in 2015 our customers will see and feel the difference from the new uniforms our crew members are sporting to new packaging and signage in restaurants, as well as how we engage with them and their communities nationwide.”
Burrell Communications continues to handle African American advertising for McDonald’s. Walton Isaacson, a Chicago-based minority-owned agency, was brought on board in the past year for event marketing activities.
The departure of Thompson has cut the number of African American chief executives of Fortune 500 companies to just five: Kenneth Chenault of American Express, Delphi’s Rodney O’Neal, Merck’s Kenneth Frazier, Carnival’s Arnold W. Donald and Ursula Burns of Xerox