Mary Dillon Will Succeed Outgoing Larry Light

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- The president of Quaker Foods, Mary Dillon, has resigned and will join McDonald’s Corp. as successor to Chief Global Marketing Officer Larry Light, who will retire at year’s end, the marketer said today.
McDonald's CMO Larry Light, who has previously announced his intentions to retire, will be replaced by Mary Dillon.

Ms. Dillon, 44, will join the fast food giant Oct. 3, reporting to Mike Roberts, McDonald's president and chief operating officer.

Term expires Sept. 2
Mr. Light has been McDonald’s top marketing executive since 2002 and is credited with reigniting the restaurant company’s sales with an overhauled marketing plan, and an “open” agency and creative strategy. His three-year term is due to expire Sept. 2.

According to a statement announcing the changes, Mr. Light will retire at year’s end and will consult with McDonald's for a period of time to be determined.

He arranged with the burger giant a two-and-a-half-year period of "continued employment" after he "ceases to be the chief marketing officer," according to the company's annual 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to the filing, Mr. Light will take an annual salary of $50,000 for the 30 months after his term ends, and his equity grants will keep vesting and can be exercised during that time.

Spirit of the agreement
"The spirit of the agreement was that I'd stay on for a minimum of three years and then we would discuss [my parting] toward the end of that period," Mr. Light had said in May. At the time he said the company would discuss his tenure over the summer.

Ms. Dillon was elevated from vice president of marketing to president last August, succeeding Polly Kawalek, who retired. An 18-year veteran at PepsiCo-owned Quaker, save a four-year term with Gardenburger, she worked in marketing on a wide range of brands, from cereals and snacks to beverages including Gatorade and Propel. She began her career as a marketing associate with Aunt Jemima in 1984.

Third PepsiCo exec to leave
Ms. Dillon is the third high-level executive to leave PepsiCo in the past four months. In May, Pepsi announced that Gary Rodkin, chairman-CEO of PepsiCo Beverages and Foods North America, resigned to pursue a CEO post. Today, AdAge.com reported that Stephen Quinn, Frito-Lay’s chief marketing officer, was leaving the PepsiCo unit to join Wal-Mart as senior vice president of marketing.

Short of a successful counteroffer for either executive, PepsiCo will be left with two senior positions to fill.

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