McDonald's Picks AKQA for Global Digital Strategy

Appointment Follows Earlier Shift of Worldwide Marketing Team

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CHICAGO ( -- McDonald's Corp. has named independent AKQA, San Francisco, as its first global digital agency.

Tribal DDB
The appointment follows a three-month shootout with several shops, which included the fast-food company's U.S. digital agency Omnicom Group's Tribal DDB. But AKQA prevailed, gaining responsibilities to formulate a global interactive strategy and coordinate with the company's local agencies, according to executives with knowledge of the shift. Tribal DDB will continue its domestic role.

Dean Barrett, senior VP-global alliances, technology and family business at McDonald's, ran the pitch, according to one executive. A McDonald's spokeswoman declined to provide details beyond confirming the win.

In April, Mary Dillon, global chief marketing officer of McDonald's, restructured the company's global marketing team to better reach consumers with digital media, from wireless to consumer-generated content to social networks.

Not cutting edge
"We are not on the cutting edge," CEO Jim Skinner admitted last week to attendees of the Forrester Consumer Forum. He said the marketer had doubled its online media spending and reduced its TV media spending from 85% of its budget to 70% in the past five years.

"We are reaching [consumers] where they work, live and play with relevant customer experiences," he said. When he showed a video of talking sandwiches via Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett, Chicago, that were run solely on websites, Mr. Skinner joked, "I don't know quite exactly understand what that was about, but they're great product shots."