McDonald's taps ex-ZPG marketer Gareth Helm to fill UK CMO role

Helm joins the business on the back on a successful first quarter

McDonald's has hired ZPG marketer Gareth Helm to fill its top marketing spot in the UK, replacing Emily Somers who left the business last year.

The Drum understands Helm will start in his new role next week, overseeing marketing for the UK arm of the fast-food giant.

McDonald's has confirmed that he will not fill the exact position vacated by Somers, who was vice-president of marketing and food development. Instead, he will be chief marketing officer of McDonald's for UK and Ireland.

Helm joins the business on the back on a successful first quarter, driven by new products and strong sales in the UK and France. Across the group, like-for-like sales were up 5.4% for the first three months of 2019.

Though the company does not break out figures for its UK business Paul Pomroy, chief executive of McDonald's in the UK and Ireland, said UK sales in March "broke all records".

Online business also performed well, with orders through the MyMcDonald's app and its delivery service accounting for almost one in 10 sales during the period.

Under Somers marketing tenure, the fast-food chain launched a campaign to mark the 50-year anniversary of the Big Mac from UK agency of record Leo Burnett. It also invested in an advertising push that sought to debunk the rumors of what McDonald’s puts in its products.

On the media side, McDonald's kicked off a pitch for its UK business 2018, but then halted it without warning, leaving incumbent OMD in place. The process was part of a larger global review from the brand and was being managed by consultancy Ebiquity.

Helm announced he was leaving Zoopla and USwitch owner ZPG in December 2018, and was replaced by Gary Bramall who joined from myTaxi.

Helm, also a former Moneysupermarket chief marketing officer, had previously managed the Zoopla brand, before taking on responsibilities across ZPG's portfolio in 2015.

The marketer oversaw a shake-up of Zoopla's ad agencies in 2016, bringing in 101 and Brothers & Sisters to manage Zoopla and USwitch advertising respectively. Goodstuff Communications was also hired to handle the group's media accounts.

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