CMO 50: Morgan Flatley

Chief marketing and digital customer experience officer, McDonald’s

McDonald’s had a roller-coaster year of leadership changes and discrimination lawsuits. But despite the controversy, business remained profitable, thanks in part to creative marketing strategies. 

Morgan Flatley, chief marketing and digital customer experience officer of McDonald’s, has spearheaded iconic campaigns that tap into pop culture. In its Famous Orders campaign, the fast-food chain partnered with celebrities including Travis Scott, BTS and J Balvin on limited edition menu items that quickly sold out. The highly anticipated BTS meal launched globally, with consumers anxiously awaiting the limited-edition merchandise line.

Flatley has also kept McDonald’s on the pulse of current events, including through a partnership with the Biden administration to share accurate information on COVID-19 vaccines. Despite restaurants temporarily closing, McDonald’s provided free meals to healthcare workers in the early days of the pandemic. Good deeds paid off, as McDonald’s recovered nearly 99% of its fourth quarter sales in 2019 globally by the end of the year.

But McDonald’s still has a long way to go to live up to its values. The fast-food chain was hit with a discrimination suit by media mogul Byron Allen in May for underinvesting in diverse media-owners. McDonald’s says it will double its diverse-media spend to 10% by 2024.

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