Last week McDonald’s Canada announced that Antoinette Benoit was taking over as Canadian CMO. She fills the spot previously held by Joel Yashinsky, who enjoyed a successful run atop the marketing operations at McDonald’s Canada, including the highly regarded “Our Food. Your Questions” campaign which helped the brand win Marketing‘s Marketer of the Year for 2012.
Benoit has been with McDonald’s since 1997, working her way up the ladder first at McDonald’s France and then becoming vice-president of strategy and insight for McDonald’s Europe.
Here’s a quick look at what we know about Benoit’s tenure at McDonald’s.
She launched the popular 1955 burger
Benoit was behind the concept for the 1955 burger, a throwback to the year Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald’s location in Illinois. Though the burger itself is pretty standard fare – bacon, BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato and caramelized grilled onions – it has been described as a “European Sensation” and was introduced to 20 European markets after it was launched in Germany and sold better there than any previous McDonald’s burger.
Benoit’s concept was paired with a new creation myth for the company: a fictive housewife in Chicago in 1955 who came up with the burger. The 1955 burger and its accompanying retro vibes have also been the focus of McDonald’s ad campaigns in multiple markets, including the U.K. and Denmark.
She was the force behind “Avatarize Yourself”
More than 2.2 million consumers created their own Avatar-style portrait, but Benoit was the first to have her own glowing blue likeness. The production partner that created the app, Oddcast, created one for Benoit who was convinced of the promotional power and helped sell the idea internally. The promotion was a smash hit, bringing in around 10 million views and an astonishing amount of time-spent with the brand – consumers, on average, spent 9:42 minutes creating their own Avatar portrait.
She’s fought for gender equality at McDonald’s
Benoit served three years as chairwoman for McDonald’s European Women Leadership Network (WLN) and most recently was executive adviser to the group. She also won the company’s global WLN award in 2009 for encouraging the development of women at McDonald’s, part of a stated goal for the brand to “become the most progressive employer for women.”
She added a Gallic touch to McDonald’s in France
Facing both anti-Americanism and anti-globalism, Benoit helped win back some goodwill in France by promoting localized products such as “sauce a la moutarde” and cantal cheese. The promotion was part of a larger campaign touting the fact that McDonald’s sources many of its ingredients from local farms in France.