With the details still being ironed out, Paul Schrage, the onetime senior executive vice president and chief marketing officer who told America "You deserve a break today," "has agreed to come back as a consultant," a McDonald's spokesman said.
The spokesman was careful to make clear that while Mr. Schrage will "have a lot of focus on the U.S. business," the chain's current domestic marketing chief, Tom Ryan, remains in the role.
Reassignment for Ryan
During the chain's worldwide
"[Mr. Schrage] is a great talent coming in as a consultant. It doesn't affect the ongoing search for our global marketing head or head of the U.S. marketing business," the spokesman said.
Executives close to McDonald's expect the move to be a stabilizing factor to help assuage franchisee dissension and take some of the heat off Mr. Greenberg. What is unclear is how Mr. Schrage's re-entry will affect agency assignments, which have been quietly shifting among the roster.
"I don't expect any big changes to come about," said Cheryl Berman, vice chairman and chief creative officer of Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, which handles children's advertising for the chain. "I think he'll just figure out how to get the best work for McDonald's. I don't think it will be about moving business. I think it will be about finding the best use of the talent pool and resources and stepping up the marketing effort in an exciting and relevant way."
Mr. Schrage joined McDonalds in 1967 to start the marketing department as its national director. He was named vice president the next year and became chief marketing officer in 1980. As his role expanded beyond the U.S. he added the title senior executive vice president in 1984. The brand's greatest jingles and menu introductions came about under his leadership, including "You deserve a break today," introduced in 1971 effort from the shop known today as DDB Worldwide.
Tough post to fill
After Mr. Schrage's retirement, the post proved difficult to fill and was downsized to handle duties only for the U.S. His first successor was the senior vice president of U.S. marketing Brad Ball, who took over the U.S marketing post in October 1996 when Mr. Schrage announced his retirement. After Mr. Ball resigned in April 1998 to join Warner Bros. as president of theatrical marketing, McDonald's installed its first relative outsider in the role in January 1999 when it tapped former PepsiCo restaurant executive Larry Zwain following a lengthy search. He worked closely with Mr. Ryan, then McDonald's menu chief, who took over the marketing job when Mr. Zwain was shipped overseas in March 2001.
Since retiring Jan. 1, 1998, as the "Keeper of the Brand," Mr. Schrage hasn't really distanced himself from the company. He continued to consult with the Ronald McDonald House Charities, for which he had been chairman of the board. He recently joined several other of the chain's veteran marketers to lead a global "boot camp" aimed at unifying the chain's marketing mission.