Nikita Mishra
May 2, 2023

Eugene Lee promoted to McDonald’s International CMO

Effective immediately, under the new role, Lee will oversee the international developmental licensed (IDL) market segment in all global regions outside of the US.

Eugene Lee, McDonald's
Eugene Lee, McDonald's

McDonald’s has upsized Asia CMO Eugene Lee’s role to that of International CMO for the international developmental licensed (IDL) market segment. Effective immediately, Lee will continue to be based in Singapore and oversee all global regions outside of the US namely Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Asia.

"It’s been a crazy but oh-so-exciting 14-year ride with McDonald’s…I’m extremely excited and humbled by the elevated responsibilities, and looking forward to interacting with our marketing teams from across the globe!" he says in a LinkedIn post

Currently based in Singapore, Lee has been with McDonald’s in various capacities for over 14 years. He started off as a young marketing executive in 2009 and quickly cut through the ranks to gain an Asia-wide marketing remit in the role of regional CMO in September 2021. He took charge of overseeing 12 Asian markets in the thick of the pandemic, which was marked by dining bans, supply-chain bottlenecks, rising costs and overall dismal sales. He is credited with guiding his teams during a pivotal time with regional brand-focused marketing strategies.

Eugene Lee with McDonald's Malaysia crew at a Feb, 2019 event.

In a September 2022 interview with Campaign, Lee recalls how stepping into the regional CMO role in the midst of pandemic closures was truly baptism by fire. “Innovation is everything for survival, you can’t let fear stop you.”

“I stepped into the regional role, visited one market which was the Philippines and the world turned upside down,” he says.

“Having been born and raised in Malaysia, I knew that market at the back of my hand and often visited the American and European markets prior to the pandemic. But not having an intimate understanding of the Asian markets was a big pain point in the initial months [of my role]. Virtual interactions are all good, but you can’t truly 'know' the food scene and the people without physically being present,” he added.

McDonald’s produces upwards of 20 campaigns per Asian market per year. One of the highlights of Lee’s tenure as Asia CMO has been to push hard on creative excellence whilst ensuring campaign effectiveness.

“Internally we have a scale for measuring the creative index for each campaign we do. Every month, every single piece of work done by all the markets in the region are brought in front of a panel of 150 marketers, both internal and external, who judge and rate the creativity and creative bravery of the campaign,” he said.

“When I first joined the regional role, our score on a scale of zero to 10 was 4.8. In 2021, it improved to 5.3. Right now, we are at 5.5. My goal is to get it up to 6 or even 7. But I am happy with the constant upward trajectory, it shows we are breaking the rulebook and not adopting the cookie cutter approach,” he added.

Another feature in Lee’s (overcrowded) hat has been spearheading McDonald’s 2022 FIFA World Cup global activation. Ahead of the November 2022 launch, Lee divulged details about it to Campaign saying, “It is an exciting time in the calendar. Every single market in which we operate will activate Qatar 2022 campaign at the same time.”

A regular in Campaign’s Power List, Lee’s marketing efforts have been recognised in the list of APAC’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers since 2020. Lee also spoke at Campaign’s 2022 Game Changers event on the intersection of Gaming and Web3 and how it ties to the CMO’s agenda

Campaign Asia

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