Burger Chain Veteran Feels 'Urgency' to Help Boost Sales

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CHICAGO ( -- McDonald's Corp., Oak Brook, Ill., today ended speculation over who would take over U.S. marketing responsibilities, naming Bill Lamar senior vice president in charge of McDonald's U.S.

Mr. Lamar was quick to debunk rumors that he had earlier been offered and then rejected the top U.S. marketing position.

'Never' offered job
"I'd never been offered the job, so I wasn't in a position to turn it down," he told, adding that he was honored and humbled by the offer. "What else could a marketing guy want?"

"Bill Lamar has proven marketing, business and field expertise," Mike Roberts, president of McDonald's USA, said in a statement. "He has demonstrated the type of leadership skills that are necessary to create new and exciting ways to engage and please our customers."

Mr. Lamar was formerly

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vice president and general manager for McDonald's Atlanta region. He succeeds Tom Ryan as the chief marketer for the U.S. operation after Mr. Ryan shifted out of that role to focus on menu and concept development.

Handpicked by Schrage
Mr. Lamar first joined the Golden Arches in 1984 as a staff director in the U.S. marketing department from United Airlines. He was handpicked by the then Chief Marketing Officer Paul Schrage, who recently came out of retirement to consult with the burger behemoth and mentor the incoming U.S. marketing chief. Mr. Lamar's earlier marketing posts were with Quaker Oats Co. and Bcom3 Group's Burrell Advertising, Chicago.

Last week, McDonald's reported that same-store sales for the U.S. fell 1.6% for the quarter, and executives fielded questions from skeptical Wall Street analysts wondering how and when its new marketing and service initiatives will help the the fast-food chain deliver better sales.

With U.S. sales in a funk and increasing pressure from competing chains, Mr. Lamar emphasized his need to quickly get up to speed and make an impact.

"I feel a sense of urgency and a great degree of responsibility to get involved to make my contributions and to provide the leadership I need to provide as soon as I possibly can," he said. "The exciting part is we have the recognition in our top management that we want to focus on the customer."

Calling agencies
Among his first calls to make are with the roster agencies.

"I'm calling the leadership of our agencies to start talking with them and getting to know them a bit," he said. "My first focus is I'm going to listen and get immersed in what we're doing and make sure I'm aware of what all our talented people are focused on, and we'll put together a great plan."

Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Chicago, is the general market agency and its Del Rivero Messianu DDB, Coral Gables, Fla., handles Hispanic marketing. Bcom3's Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, handles marketing to children, and Publicis Groupe's Burrell Communications Group, Chicago, handles African-American marketing.

While he said it was too early to layout his plan to boost business, "but I guarantee you the U.S business is going to grow," he said.

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