Marlena Peleo-Lazar

Marlena Peleo-Lazar
Chief Creative Officer
McDonald’s Corporation

Marlena Peleo-Lazar, a Detroit native, is the Chief Creative Officer of McDonald’s Corporation where she is responsible for all of the advertising for Brand McDonald’s.  With direct responsibility for the work in the US, and a general overview for all of the other countries, her job is to raise the company’s level of creativity all over the world. She admits that each country has their own agencies, but her role is to set the guidelines for a “freedom within a framework” model—a big task given the global expanse of the Golden Arches.

She was instrumental in the creation and implementation of the current business-building, creative, the award-winning “I’m Lovin’ It” advertising campaign for McDonald’s that runs in 118 countries around the world. Now a decade old, it’s the longest running campaign in McDonald’s history.  By comparison, the well-known “You Deserve A Break Today” was only 18 months old.

She admits that “I’m Lovin’ It” was a truly simple idea-- conceived in June and on the air, in print, and on billboards across the world by September.  Operating at breakneck speed was exhausting, but exhilarating, particularly given the long-term significance of the campaign.

Subsequent to her joining McDonald’s, Marlena held a number of creative roles with Leo Burnett and Ogilvy & Mather—ranging from copywriter to creative director.  She was tapped to bring some of that creative department know-how to McDonald’s in 2000 after speaking at an advertising luncheon while the chairman of McDonald’s was in the audience. He came up to her after the event, said he loved the way she spoke about brands, and the rest is history. Thirteen years later, Marlena’s still going strong under the Golden Arches, guiding one of the world’s most recognizable brands while collecting numerous creative and business honors along the way.

Proud of being part of a leader in the food industry, she stresses how McDonalds takes its commitment to nutrition seriously, especially for children. Today, for example, all Happy Meals in the US include apple slices.  She’s equally proud of such McDonald’s initiatives the Ronald McDonald House, now among the biggest charities in the United States, but one that is rarely publicized.

When not helping to polish the “golden arches,” Marlena is active in the Chicago advertising community.  In 2006 and 2007, she served as President of the Chicago Advertising Federation.  She is often a featured speaker at industry events and at schools throughout the country.  Additionally, Marlena mentors many people seeking careers in advertising and marketing. 

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