Mr. Ryan, currently executive vice president for U.S. marketing and chief concept officer for McDonald's USA, has been working at his new post for roughly six months, according to one of the executives, who said the marketer could announce the move and an interim replacement as early as today.
The company has begun a search for a permanent replacement for Mr. Ryan and has identified at least three internal and external candidates for the post, said the executive.
Global marketing chief
In April, the chain announced
Korn/Ferry declined to comment. Mr. Ryan is out of the country and was unreachable for comment.
A spokeswoman for McDonald's said, "It is inappropriate to respond to speculation or rumors about personnel announcements and internal business discussions," but that the search for the chief marketing officer is "on track." She also said Tom Ryan "is leading three significant areas for McDonald's USA," menu management, concept development and marketing.
By all accounts, Mr. Ryan will be better suited to this new post. He is considered a daring menu innovator by peers and associates but is considered ill-matched to the chief marketing role. His title has frequently reflected that duality. When Mr. Ryan last month won a Menu Masters award for menu innovation from Nation's Restaurant News, his title was listed as "executive VP menu development/new concepts marketing."
Menu's mixed reviews
He won the award for developing McDonald's New Tastes Menu, which rotates items on a limited-time basis. Despite consumer's apparent demand for variety, the menu has received mixed reviews from franchisees and analysts and has done little to fire up sales.
But one possible menu hit may have emerged. On Monday, the chain pulled its Grilled Chicken Flatbread sandwich from the special menu after it couldn't satisfy consumer demand. Several franchisees have said they were selling an average of 50 sandwiches per day and called it a "mild success."
What many observers consider a greater achievement is the chain's new Diner Inside concept, which Mr. Ryan had a lead role in its development. After a wildly successful test in Kokomo, Ind., the Golden Arches is expanding the dual diner/fast-food restaurant. At least six units will open by the end of the year as the company mulls a wider rollout.