President of Quaker Foods, Mary Dillon, has resigned and is expected to join McDonald’s Corp as successor to Chief Global Marketing Officer Larry Light, who is expected to leave the fast food company when his contract ends, according to executives close to the marketers. Announcements about the moves are pending, according to these executives.
Light has been McDonald’s top marketing executive since 2002 and is credited with re-igniting the restaurant company’s sales with an overhauled marketing plan and an “open” agency and creative strategy. His three-year term is due to expire on September 2, and insiders said that he likely would leave the company by year’s end.
He arranged with the fast food giant a two-and-a-half-year period of “continued employment” after he “ceases to be the chief marketing officer”, according to the company’s annual 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
According to the filing, Light will take an annual salary of $50,000 for the 30 months after his term ends, and his equity grants will keep vesting and can be exercised during that time.
Spirit of the agreement
“The spirit of the agreement was that I’d stay on for a minimum of three years and then we would discuss (my parting) towards the end of that period,” Light said in May, adding that the company would discuss his tenure over the summer.
Calls to Dillon and Light and their spokesmen weren’t immediately returned.
Dillon, 44, was elevated from Vice-President of Marketing to President last August, succeeding Polly Kawalek, who retired. An 18-year veteran at PepsiCo-owned Quaker, save a four-year term with Gardenburger, Dillon worked in marketing on a wide range of brands, from cereals and snacks to beverages, including Gatorade and Propel. She began her career as a marketing associate with Aunt Jemima in 1984.
Third PepsiCo exec to leave
Dillon is the third high-level executive to leave PepsiCo in the past four months. In May, Pepsi announced that Gary Rodkin, Chairman-CEO of PepsiCo Beverages and Foods North America, had resigned to pursue a CEO post.
Today, AdAge.com reported that Stephen Quinn, Frito-Lay’s Chief Marketing Officer, was leaving the PepsiCo unit to join Wal-Mart as Senior Vice-President, Marketing.
Short of a successful counter-offer for either executive, PepsiCo will be left with two senior positions to fill.