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McDonald's Dedicated Agency We Are Unlimited Brings in New CEO

By Published on .

We Are Unlimited incoming CEO Mark Mulhern
We Are Unlimited incoming CEO Mark Mulhern Credit: Courtesy DDB

DDB North America's dedicated McDonald's agency We Are Unlimited will come under new leadership after one year in business, with iCrossing's Mark Mulhern taking the helm as CEO on January 8.

The leadership change comes as We Are Unlimited, which at first was solely dedicated to McDonald's U.S. marketing, prepares to pitch for other accounts.

Mulhern will fill the post that was initially held by former BBDO Senior Director Brian Nienhaus, who was the first chief executive of the DDB bespoke shop. Nienhaus is moving into a new role within Omnicom. Specific details were not disclosed, but DDB North America CEO Wendy Clark says Nienhaus will work with both DDB and holding company Omnicom in the post.

"Brian was part of the pitch team and came into the account naturally," says Clark, adding that We Are Unlimited is at a point now where it is looking to pivot from a startup into a more sustainable agency.

She says DDB and McDonald's made a "collective and collaborative decision" to hire Mulhern, who has been "successfully" leading iCrossing New York for the last two-and-a-half years, as president. Hearst-owned iCrossing was one of Ad Age's 2017 Agencies to Watch. Mulhern will report to Clark.

Mulhern, who earlier in his career spent three years at sibling agency BBDO as an executive vice president, will look to continue to build momentum for McDonald's, says Clark. He will also help take We Are Unlimited to other clients by pitching for other accounts in 2018. When the two businesses began working together in August 2016, We Are Unlimited made a deal with McDonald's to not pitch for other business for 18 months, but after that, the shop will have the opportunity to bring in new clients.

In May, DDB North America Chief Creative Officer Ari Weiss hired Toygar Bazarkaya, known for his creative work at Havas and BBDO, as the first chief creative officer of We Are Unlimited.

The agency was created under prior McDonald's leadership following a major creative agency review at the world's largest restaurant chain. Back in 2016, Deborah Wahl was McDonald's U.S. chief marketing officer and Mike Andres was its U.S. president. Chris Kempczinski took the McDonald's U.S. president role at the beginning of 2017, just as We Are Unlimited officially began as McDonald's national agency. In May, Morgan Flatley, who knew Kempczinski from their tenures at PepsiCo, joined the Golden Arches as U.S. CMO.

"We are grateful for Brian's leadership and his incredible commitment during this first year of our new agency model," Flatley said in a statement provided by DDB. "We welcome Mark and look forward to leveraging his expertise as we build upon our creative and integrated marketing approach aimed at enhancing connections with our customers."

Mulhern is joining We Are Unlimited as McDonald's prepares to promote a new value menu. The chain is trying to maintain and grow the sales momentum that has been rolling along since the October 2015 debut of All Day Breakfast. A new $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu debuts Jan. 4, including items such as $1 any size soft drink, $2 two-piece Buttermilk Crispy Tenders and $3 Happy Meals. McDonald's, which has roughly 14,000 restaurants across the country, posted a healthy 4.1 percent increase in comparable sales in the third quarter.

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