Notes From AMA Mplanet 2009 - Mary Dillon, Global CMO McDonald's


Mplanet registration Last week I joined 800 marketers at the 2nd AMA Mplanet conference in Orlando. When friends asked if I enjoyed the weather in sunny FL after spending the previous weekend in single digit temps in NYC, I realized I had spent a total of 30-minutes out doors. Which must mean that it was a pretty good event!

I have so many notes so consider this the first post of an Mplanet mini series.

Many of the speakers addressed our current economic situation, presenting it as an opportunity to get back to marketing basics. Listening to your customers was repeated by almost every speaker I heard. Being true to your brand/value was also a common theme.

Mary DillonMary dillion mcdonald global cmo m planet Global CMO of McDonald's. Rachelle Lacroix and Bryan Blaise, Fleishman-Hillard, offered the speakers an opportunity to join the conference bloggers (Scott Titus, Matt O’Hern, Greg Verdino, Becky Carroll, Greg Rollett, Toby Bloomberg, Susanne Sicilian and Susan Peyton. All of the bloggers have great posts about the event.) in a private meeting. My thanks to Mary Dillion, the only speaker who met with us. Mary answered our questions with grace, openness and humor. However, since it was lunch time, I must admit we were all a bit disapponted that she didn't bring fries or a Big Mac.

Social Media

Social media is viewed as a big opportunity but McDonald's has stepped gingerly into the space. Social initiatives include  corporate responsibility blog, Values in Practice, launched in 2006, a new Happy Meal game (see below) which includes an online community and closed employees online communities.

"Social media has not been a critical need but it is a critical opportunity." Mary Dillon, Global CMO, McDonalds

McDonald's CMO thinks that social media will help with perspective about the brand. Interestingly, Mary is not that concerned about the Big R .. ROI since she perceives that in comparison to other strategies social media will not be a big dollar investment and therefore, not something that has to be proven for every dollar spent.


Creating a brand value occurs over time. McDonalds all about comfort food with great taste. Delivery that is meaningful and relevant. McDonald's Brand Promise: simple easy enjoyment. Global + local relevancy = consistency. Building relationships with customers staying true to who you are. Understanding the local culture is a high priority. I was surprised to learn that France is in the top five markets for McDonald's. With their pulse on the culture of that market the new Paris interior of the restaurants are awesome .. chic, modern, very upscale.

The Crew

It was quite evident that Mary was proud of McDonald's crew (employees are referred as "crew"). Closed online communities, by local markets, are being developed for the crew to exchange ideas and learn from each other. The communites fun names like McTribe, Our Lounge, McLand, Station M reinforce the McD branding.

One of the most popular internal crew programs has been an international talent search contest a la American Idol where people compete for cash prizes. The final votes were cast by consumers online. Mary called the last contest life changing for the winner who yes, is still working at McDonalds in Brazil but is pursuing music education and perhaps a possible career change one day.

Global Moms Panel

A global moms advisory panel that is recruited on local level is one strategy that McDonald has in place to listen to their customers.


Greg Rollett asked an interesting questions about music in relationship to the youth market. A focus for McDonald's is discovering unknown musicians and bands and to keep the music authentic.

 Tips from Mary Dillion in marketing in a down economy or how to market smarter with less

1. Begin by understanding your target

2. Identify what problem you are trying to solve

3. Review what worked what did not


McDonald's has made a commitment to promoting well being of children through making healthy food fun  for kids. Lots of initiatives are in place with more in development. Mcdonalds happy meal hotel for dogs

When it comes to the kids the toys in the Happy Meals are as important as the burgers and fries. McD's is modernize the toys to include a digital focus. Hotel for Dogs is the current 'toy partner' and McD's has created a pet dog a la the Webkinz concept. Kids and pups can play in their very own online McWorld. My favs are Romeo and Julliet .. very cute.

Mplanet post #1


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Great summary, Toby, of what I took notes on as well! Yes, I heard a lot of "listen to customers" at Mplanet, and social media is a great place to do that. Mary was indeed very gracious, and open, to us bloggers. Thank you, Mary, for listening and thank you, Toby for the post!

Posted by: Becky Carroll on Feb 3, 2009 12:57:00 AM

@becky - loved your post that highlighted the meeting with Mary.
btw .. now I want to buy Happy Meals for the cute pups and their online community!

Posted by: Toby on Feb 3, 2009 1:26:41 AM

Hey Toby - great recap. Had a great time meeting you and chatting over lunch. Looking forward to future conversations and not "versations."

Posted by: Greg Rollett on Feb 3, 2009 1:12:17 PM

Excellent information, especially about the McWorld. Thank you for sharing. You mentioned that McD's is "promoting...healthy food fun for kids." I was just curious if you could elaborate on that. I know they are doing the milk and apples like many other places, but was there anything else in the works discussed specifically at the event?

Posted by: Melanie M. Mowry, MPH on Feb 3, 2009 5:11:14 PM

@Greg - ditto!
@Melanie - great question. Mary did but I don't have it in my notes. I've been in contact with McD's Senior Manager, Corp. Media Relations and will reach out to her for an answer.

Posted by: Toby on Feb 3, 2009 8:16:38 PM

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