After more than two decades with McDonald’s, William “Bill” Lamar, Jr., today announced his plan to retire from the Golden Arches at the end of the first quarter of 2008.

Lamar has served as chief marketing officer for McDonald’s USA since August 2002. In addition to national marketing for McDonald’s nearly 14,000 U.S. restaurants, Lamar was also responsible for new product development as well as business research for the U.S. company.

“Bill’s contributions to our brand are simply too vast to attempt to quantify,” says Don Thompson, president of McDonald’s USA. “What Bill has effectively done in his own unique and quiet way is leave an indelible mark on our brand that will last for generations to come. Brand McDonald’s has benefited greatly by his contributions.”

Lamar was among the McDonald’s management team that developed and implemented the Plan To Win, which led to the turnaround of the McDonald’s business in 2003 and continues to build momentum.

In the U.S. company, Lamar led the effort to unify and focus McDonald’s marketing under one plan which included the highly successful “i’m lovin’ it” campaign. Lamar’s team in new product development created and introduced an unprecedented number of successful new products during his tenure.

“The health and trajectory of McDonald’s business continues on a path to a bright and prosperous future,” says Lamar. “It’s a good time for me and my wife to turn the page knowing the brand we love is in such a good place.”

Having spent half of his McDonald’s career in restaurant operations, Lamar is known throughout the company as an “operations guy.” For more than five years, he was vice president and general manager for McDonald’s Atlanta region, overseeing more than 700 company-owned and franchised restaurants in four states, consistently generating sales of more than $1 billion every year.

“Anyone who knows Bill Lamar will tell you he’s intensely competitive,” says Jan Fields, executive vice president and COO of McDonald’s USA. “Bill’s positive attitude and willingness to take risks has served our brand very well. He strives for nothing less than excellence in every aspect of his personal and professional life,” adds Fields. “He has instilled these attributes in his team and he leaves McDonald’s in a stronger position than when he joined the company nearly 25 years ago.”

“Bill Lamar has been a great business partner,” says Ralph Alvarez, president and COO for McDonald’s Corporation. “He’s a leader who has always put our brand and our system first. He’s earned great respect and admiration with his accomplishments throughout his career, and I wish he and his wife Kathy all the best.”

As a frequently sought-after speaker on emerging marketing trends and new business strategies, Lamar is also widely recognized by business and trade media as well as his peers. Most recently Lamar has been honored by Advertising Age as 2004 “Marketer of the Year,” in 2006 he was named one of the most powerful African-Americans in corporate America by Black Enterprise magazine and most-recently, he was honored with the 2007 Chicago Advertising Federation’s Silver Medal Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding marketing leadership.

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