McDonald’s President Departs

BOSTON McDonald’s late Wednesday said Mike Roberts, president and chief operating officer, has resigned, and that his position has been filled by Ralph Alvarez, formerly president of the company’s North American operations.

“We all owe Mike a tremendous debt of gratitude,” said company CEO Jim Skinner, in a statement. “Because of his leadership, our system is stronger and more aligned than ever.”

Of Alvarez’s ascension, Skinner said, “Ralph has an exemplary track record in both our domestic and international businesses. He is a tremendous leader and team player.”

No reason was given for Roberts’ departure. In a statement provided by McDonald’s, he is quoted as saying, in part, “I’m fortunate to have been part of so many defining moments—most recently our renaissance,” but he gives no rationale for his exit.

Roberts was promoted to president in November 2004, at the same time Skinner was elevated to succeed ailing CEO Charlie Bell, who died of cancer shortly thereafter.

Also yesterday, McDonald’s said Don Thompson, executive vice president and COO of McDonald’s USA, has been elevated to president of U.S. operations.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based client spent approximately $800 million on domestic ads in 2005, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Estimated global marketing expenditures exceed $1.5 billion annually.

Sales have been on an upswing over the past two years thanks to the ubiquitous “I’m lovin’ it” campaign and numerous (mostly healthy-choice) menu additions. The momentum slowed somewhat in July, however, as McDonald’s reported same-store sales growth of slightly less than 2 percent, compared to nearly 5 percent for the same period a year ago.

Omnicom Group’s DDB in Chicago serves as the chain’s lead U.S. agency.

Omnicom’s TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif., was recently added to its agency roster, and in January introduced a nationwide campaign that showed people talking to a statue of brand icon Ronald McDonald [Adweek Online, Jan. 18].