McDonald’s UK and Ireland has promoted Michelle Graham-Clare to senior vice-president, chief marketing officer, a year after the brand’s last CMO Gareth Helm left the business.
Graham-Clare joined the fast-food giant in 2015 as marketing manager from Tesco, where she had been head of marketing (start-up brands). She has since been promoted to senior marketing manager, head of marketing and marketing director, before becoming VP in September 2019.
Before starting her marketing career, which has spanned roles at Weetabix, Bauer Media’s Grazia magazine and travel food business SSP Asia Pacific, she worked in a McDonald’s restaurant.
Graham-Clare has led the marketing team since the UK CMO role became vacant last June, when Helm, who had joined from Zoopla and uSwitch owner ZPG, left after just over a year. Helm’s departure came shortly after Alistair Macrow, the London-based former UK CMO, was promoted to global CMO.
In a statement, McDonald’s said Graham-Clare’s leadership had been “pivotal” throughout the pandemic, and pointed to successful campaigns she has overseen for products including the McCafé range, Spicy McNuggets and the Grand Big Mac. She has played a leading role in the brand’s "Trust" strategy, which runs both through marketing campaigns and comms across the business, encompassing charity partnerships and community, work such as a tie-up with Fareshare that provided five million meals to families in need.
Graham-Clare, who has two children, is a member of the Women’s Leadership Network and a champion of women in business.
Paul Pomroy, chief executive of McDonald’s UK and Ireland, said: “I am delighted to announce Michelle’s promotion. What has always been clear to me is that Michelle is a visionary marketer with strong business and commercial acumen and a passionate brand advocate.
“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.”
Graham-Clare called her new role “a huge privilege”, and said she had “every ambition to build our brand even further in the UK and Ireland and continue to delight our customers with great-tasting food in a way that only McDonald’s can".
She added: “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.
"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."