Golden opportunities from acts of succession

McDonald’s promotion of Alistair Macrow to the restaurant’s top UK marketing role follows hot on the heels of the seamless elevation of former CMO Jill McDonald to CEO.

McDonald’s deserved promotion was, in turn, made possible because her predecessor, Steve Easterbrook, was moved to the new position of vice-president and global chief brand officer.

This sequence (revealed exclusively every step of the way by Marketing Week and reveals two things about the company.

The first is the value placed upon the function of marketing within the organisation. The notion that the golden arches brand is priceless and that a brand guardian’s influence should stretch beyond advertising to incorporate responsibility for the restaurants, the product ranges, the sustainability drive and every inch of the customer experience has served McDonald’s well. Such reasoned, customer-centric management has been the difference between a 4.9% increase in global revenue for McDonald’s and a flatter performance for its rivals. As reported in Rosie Baker’s scoop, Macrow’s remit has grown since the job was handed over by Jill McDonald but he still knows what his core priority is.

“Opinions of the brand will be formed most strongly when our customers step through the door.”

“McDonald’s does succession planning very well. Three internal promotions means three challenged and motivated marketers already versed in the company culture”

But the other thing the moves reveal is that McDonald’s does succession planning very well indeed. Three internal promotions means three challenged and motivated marketers already versed in the company culture with a loyalty and a hunger to grow and prove themselves all over again.

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The Annual, Marketing Week’s new conference on 29 September 2010

The same could be said of the reorganisation that will reportedly follow Tesco’s appointment of Phil Clarke to replace Sir Terry Leahy as chief executive. The new structure will allow several other top executives, such as commercial director Richard Brasher, who will become UK chief executive, to kick on and meet new challenges while not losing face at missing out on the top spot.

Our cover story this week, looking at the Marketing Academy scheme run by the Marketing Hall of Legends organisation fulfils a number of functions. For one, it gives us a good look at some of the young brand managers being groomed to lead our industry in the years to come. But it also raises the issue of the time, resources and cash we spend looking for external candidates to fill vacant roles. As employers, how many of us are guilty of lamenting the lack of internal job candidates with the right leadership skills and experience while at the same time neglecting to train and develop our young talent? Read the feature to find out how you could emulate McDonald’s success.

Mark Choueke, editor

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