Staff Reporters
May 16, 2023

Asia-Pacific Power List 2023: Eugene Lee, McDonald's

Lee’s rise to the top of the golden arches has been nothing short of remarkable. With a keen eye for innovative marketing, the newly promoted International CMO is a force to be reckoned with.

Asia-Pacific Power List 2023: Eugene Lee, McDonald's
Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers

Eugene Lee

International CMO (IDL)
Member since 2020

Google Eugene Lee and the one common theme seen in most articles is his meteoric rise in the marketing world. His dynamic career trajectory is nothing short of remarkable. Lee started out as a young executive in 2009, spent 11 years honing his skills at various levels in Malaysia, landed an Asia-wide marketing remit for one of the most recognisable global brands in the world in 2020 and kept rising through the ranks to become the newly instated international CMO (IDL) market segment.

As the Asia CMO overseeing 12 regional markets in the thick of the pandemic marked by setbacks like dining bans, supply-chain bottlenecks, rising costs and overall dismal sales, Lee’s skill was evident in navigating the brand during a crucial testing time. He did that with fresh, progressive regional brand-focused marketing strategies that contributed to a solid sales growth of 15.7% year-on-year in 2022 versus the 8.3% planned.

Business has gained a strong momentum in the region in his tenure; performance in 2022 closed at an impressive 127% of 2019 sales, driven primarily by effective marketing campaigns and overall menu plans. The same trend momentum continues in McDonald’s brand score analysis in Asia that reveals a favourable uptick in metrics like Trust (ratings went up from 61 to 63), Brand Affinity (36 to 38), Great Tasting Burger (62 to 65) and Great Tasting Chicken (45 to 52) – all of which are areas of focus for the brand and the QSR industry in general.

His teams launched several campaigns last year; on average, McDonald’s produces upwards of 20 campaigns per Asian market per year. For Lee, a standout remains spearheading the 2022 FIFA World Cup global activation out of Asia. As the first global campaign for the brand, the 75 markets in which McDonald’s operates worldwide activated the integration simultaneously. The stakes were high; but the biggest challenge was to stay true to localisation and cultural ethos whilst maintaining global relevance. Adapted in 10 languages, four dialects, the campaign was further uplifted in Asia with market-specific activations that tapped into local fan interests and cultures.

For Singles’ Day, Lee served a cheeky campaign that invited customers to ‘swipe right’ on a bunch of menu items looking for love. A line-up of single products that don’t always get attention from consumers compared to their bestseller counterparts was introduced akin to a dating app. Customers were taste-matched to the menu items that deserve a second chance via swipeable interactive highlights serving as a clutter-breaker from the usual discount promotions around 11.11.

Since he took charge of the Asia remit, Lee has been vocal about upping the creative index and effectiveness of McDonald’s campaigns in the region. He’s done that by creating a region wide pool of 150 marketers from Asia, both internal and external, who meet every month to judge and rate the creative bravery of a campaign; the process allows for visibility, and better cross-sharing of the work and creates a healthy competition to improve the quality.

A champion of diversity and inclusion both in the workplace and industry contributions, Lee is known to give shout outs to his peers for their hard work, as he did during IWD with a heartfelt note. A speaker at Campaign’s Game Changers event in 2022, Lee is a mentor for industry programs and has served on the jury of the APAC Effies, Campaign’s Agency of the Year, and McDonald’s Global Feel Good Awards. Also a member of McDonald’s Global Creative Council and Global Marketing Leadership, he’s proud about “being the voice of Asia in a ‘Western-dominated company, ensuring that the region gets recognised and is appreciated across the globe.”

Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers


Campaign Asia

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