After leaving the Obama administration in 2011, Gibbs briefly held several advisory roles in the White House before co-founding his strategic communications advisory firm, Incite Agency. A statement released by McDonald’s on Tuesday said the former press secretary had just been hired by the fast-food giant as their new chief communications officer.
"Gibbs will lead McDonald’s corporate relations group, which manages internal and external communications and government and public affairs," the statement reads. "He will lead McDonald’s in communicating clear, coordinated messages to internal and external constituencies, enhancing the brand and supporting corporate strategies."
The announcement comes as McDonald’s struggles to realign its corporate brand, with Chief Executive Steve Easterbrook laying out plans to overhaul the company’s management in an effort to modernize the chain.
The company, which announced its twelfth straight decline in monthly same-store sales on Monday, has been struggling as it faces competition from emerging fast-food chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Shake Shack, which have become more appealing to a generation concerned with healthier and higher-end food.
Easterbrook, who took over the company in March, has said the chain needs to rebrand itself in order to respond to new and changing attitudes towards fast food.
McDonald’s also faces increasing pressure from labor groups demanding higher wages for restaurant workers. The company announced plans in April to raise the wage of 9,000 of its employees by $1 above the legal minimum wage, with plans to eventually increase it to over $10 by 2016. However, labor groups campaigning for $15 an hour are saying that’s not enough.
Having someone like Gibbs, whose job was to represent and answer for one of the most powerful figures in the world, will likely help the fast-food giant as it tackles issues from health and labor advocates.
In its statement, McDonald’s also announced it will be hiring Silvia Lagnado, the person behind Dove’s "Campaign for Real Beauty," as its new chief marketing officer.
"Robert and Silvia are both highly-respected, talented leaders who will bring a wealth of experience and outside perspective to McDonald’s as we build a more modern, progressive burger company," Easterbrook said in a statement. "Returning excitement to our business proposition and brand is foundational to our turnaround plan, and Robert and Silvia – with their respective teams – will play critical roles in bringing this strategy to life."