McDonald's: How to turn around a legacy brand

Geoffrey Precourt

After nearly 14 years in automotive marketing – a career trajectory that touched such nameplates as Mazda, Lexus, Toyota and Ford, and, in time, led to the CMO post at Chrysler LLC – it would seem that Deborah Wahl could have expected a snappier pace from the QSR slice of the marketing ecosystem.

"I come from the car business," the SVP/CMO for McDonald's USA told an opening-morning audience at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2016 Masters of Marketing Conference, "where it takes several years to build a car."

When she arrived at McDonald's, the pace did appear more manageable. A customer wants a clementine side order to accompany a Happy Meal? No problem: Call it a "Cutie", put it out into the market, and see how people respond.