McDonald's Names Atif Rafiq Its First Chief Digital Officer

Tasked With Leading 'Comprehensive' Strategy for Global Organization

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McDonald's has named Amazon and Yahoo veteran Atif Rafiq its first chief digital officer.

In the newly created role, Mr. Rafiq will lead McDonald's global digital strategy focusing on future growth in e-commerce, modernizing the restaurant experience and engaging with consumers across the digital landscape. Rafiq will report to Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook, who rejoined McDonald's in April. Mr. Easterbrook was global chief brand officer for a brief stint in 2010, before becoming president of McDonald's European division; he left McDonald's in 2011.

Atif Rafiq
Atif Rafiq

"Consumers visit and interact with our brand in multiple ways -- and digital continues to grow increasingly important to them," said Mr. Easterbrook in a statement. "Atif will lead a more coordinated and comprehensive digital strategy for our global organization as we deepen our connection with our customers. His cutting-edge thinking, background and expertise will help us drive even greater innovation in this arena."

It's unclear what exact global digital initiatives Mr. Rafiq will oversee, or what it means for digital marketing and media in the U.S. But the move comes as McDonald's and its competitors in the U.S. are looking for ways to connect to consumers, particularly in the mobile space -- a medium the restaurant industry has been slow to embrace. Overseas, McDonald's and other chains have been working with mobile for some time.

McDonald's is currently testing mobile payments in the U.S., including mobile ordering, with customers able to pick up food in stores, curbside or at the drive-thru. It's also been digitizing its menu boards in recent years.

Mr. Rafiq was most recently general manager of Kindle Direct Publishing at Amazon.com, overseeing global product management, marketing, design and development. Before that, he was at Yahoo, first as general manager of the Y! Local division, and then in a global product strategy role for the Y! News division. He's also worked at AOL and Goldman Sachs.

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