McDonald’s brings back ‘critical’ UK CMO role

Promoted to CMO at the fast food giant, Michelle Graham-Clare has been McDonald’s most senior UK marketer since the departure of Gareth Helm last summer.

A year on from scrapping the CMO role, McDonald’s UK and Ireland has promoted Michelle Graham-Clare to senior vice-president, chief marketing officer.

Graham-Clare has been the business’ most senior UK marketer since the departure of former CMO Gareth Helm, who left in the summer of 2020 and became the global CMO of home repairs company HomeServe in September.

Helm’s departure prompted a rejig of the marketing team, with Graham-Clare taking over in an expanded role, while keeping her then-title of vice-president of marketing and food development.

However, UK and Ireland CEO Paul Pomroy has now declared the CMO role as “critical” to the ongoing success of the McDonald’s brand.

“Michelle is a visionary marketer with strong business and commercial acumen, and a passionate brand advocate,” he says.

“Since taking responsibility for the marketing team last year, she has demonstrated her strong, brave and balanced leadership to create a marketing and food strategy that truly seeks to connect with our customers, through understanding the role McDonald’s plays in their lives and the communities we serve.”

McDonald’s cuts UK CMO role as Gareth Helm departs

As CMO, Graham-Clare will take ultimate responsibility for all food strategy and marketing campaigns, as well as continuing to lead her marketing teams and agency partners.

During her 20-year career, she has worked at brands including Weetabix and coffee house Harris + Hoole, before joining McDonald’s in 2015 as a marketing manager. In her six and a half years with the company, Graham-Clare worked her way up through positions including head of marketing and marketing director.

McDonald’s describes her leadership over the past 18 months as “pivotal”, particularly as the Covid-19 pandemic brought uncertainty and financial pressure to the business.

She has also overseen award winning marketing campaigns including the McCafe range, Spicy McNuggets and the Grand Big Mac, which is currently the brand’s most successful promotion to date in the UK and Ireland.

On top of that, she plays a leading role in the development and execution of the ‘Trust’ strategy, which encompasses McDonald’s charity partnerships and community work.

Graham-Clare says she has “every ambition” to further build the brand in the UK and Ireland, as it bounces back from the impact of Covid-19.

“We have navigated a difficult period for the business and come out stronger. Looking ahead, we have ambitious plans and we will make some bold new moves,” she explains.

“It’s essential that our marketing campaigns bring these positive moves to life creatively and continue to connect us with our customers. This will be driven by our incredibly talented team and best-in-class agencies and I can’t wait to see what we can achieve next.”