McDonald’s CCO Paleo-Lazar resigns after 14 years

Marlena Peleo-Lazar

Marlena Peleo-Lazar, McDonald’s chief creative officer and a 14-year veteran of the Oak Brook-based company, has resigned amid pressure of reversing the chain’s falling U.S. sales, Advertising Age reported.

Peleo-Lazar had overseen creative execution of national and local marketing for the chain, coordinating and approving thousands of pieces of creative. She also had input on strategy for creative briefs, concepts and their ultimate execution, according to people familiar with the company.

The shift comes as McDonald’s seeks ways of refreshing “I’m lovin’ it,” and recently wrapped a pitch for rebranding ideas that was won by Publicis’ Leo Burnett. A new campaign is expected next year.

Peleo-Lazar has historically reported to the U.S. chief marketing officer, according to executives familiar with the job. Deborah Wahl, McDonald’s new CMO, took on that post in early March.

Since joining the Golden Arches, Wahl has shaken up some of McDonald’s marketing processes, taking on more direct oversight than her predecessor in areas such as agency relationships and partnerships between McDonald’s and brands like Disney or the NBA, according to Ad Age.

Peleo-Lazar had lengthy agency experience before joining McDonald’s as VP/CCO in 2000 from Ogilvy & Mather where she’d been deputy executive creative director, after a 22 year career at Leo Burnett. 

She received the Illinois Influential Women in Business Award, McDonald’s Women’s Leadership Network Award and in 2004, she was named Chicago Advertising Woman of the Year. In her speech at the Ad Woman luncheon, Peleo-Lazar advised her sisters in advertising to persevere in their careers, despite obstacles and said, “Remember, life is a movie.”