Feedback
Business

Former Obama Spokesman Robert Gibbs Hired by McDonald’s

FILE: WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 29: White House Press Secretary Robert GibbsAccording to reports January 5, 2011, Gibbs will step down as U.S. President Barack Obama's White House press secretary. Alex Wong / Getty Images

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.

First Lady Michelle Obama, a big proponent of healthy eating and fitness, might not be "lovin it". She drew the ire of fast food restaurants in recent years after she spoke out about advertisements aimed at kids.

However, she has also lauded McDonald's for adding such healthier options as fruit and yogurt to their menus and posting caloric and nutritional content.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Tuesday that he wasn't sure the first lady had received the news.

But the administration complimented Gibbs' skills as a communicator.

"I had the opportunity to work closely with Gibbs, folks at McDonald's have just hired themseleves one of the most effective and articulate communications folks in the country," Earnest said.

Other former White House staffers agreed.

Related: First Lady Proposes Ban on Junk Food Marketing in Schools

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. 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.

Fast Food Workers Protest at McDonald's HQ 1:01

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.

Related: 'Impossible' Push for $15/Hour Minimum Wage Sees Some Success

The company has also faced a push from labor advocates who want the "Golden Arches" to raise wages.

In May, a group of more than 1,500 at McDonald's annual shareholder meeting in Oak Brook, Ill., rallied to protest for higher pay and union representation.