McDonald's names former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs chief communications officer

MarketsAssociated Press

McDonald's has named former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs as its global chief communications officer, as the fast-food giant looks to improve its image.

The world's biggest hamburger chain said Tuesday that Gibbs will manage the company's communications and government affairs and help to improve its well-known brand. He replaces Bridget Coffing, who announced her retirement earlier this year.

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Gibbs served as President Obama's first White House press secretary and as a senior adviser during the president's re-election campaign. He then co-founded The Incite Agency, a strategic communications advisory firm.

McDonald's Corp.'s CEO, Steve Easterbrook, said in a company statement that both Gibbs and new Chief Marketing Officer Silvia Lagnado will offer a wealth of experience and outside perspective "as we build a more modern, progressive burger company."

Easterbrook took over in March and has been fighting to revive sluggish sales for the Oak Brook, Illinois, company, which has more than 36,00 locations globally. McDonald's said Monday that sales from established locations dipped last month, with weakness in the U.S. and some overseas markets.

The company's turnaround plan includes a restructuring to strip away layers of bureaucracy and selling more company-owned restaurants to franchisees around the world.

Shares of McDonald's slipped 43 cents to $94.88 in midday trading Tuesday, while broader indexes edged up. The stock had climbed less than 2 percent so far this year, as of Monday's close, a slightly larger advance than the Standard & Poor's 500 index.