After starting as the first female Ad manager for McDonald’s, Brenda Duncan retires after 40 years – a true Trailblazer for women
At a recent National Marketing event, the US McDonald’s System had the opportunity to honor an individual for more than thirty years passionately devoting their time and energy to the McDonald’s brand.
Brenda was born in a small town in Maine. But grew up as a Jersey girl in the shadows of Philadelphia and New York. You might say that she was the original Jersey girl. It was an upbringing that helped firmly root her in small town values coupled with big city savvy. After graduating from Northwestern University Brenda went to work in Detroit for J.L. Hudson Department Store. That’s where she learned her love for retail. But her future would lie in Indianapolis where she would become a trail blazer for women at McDonald’s.
She was hired on the spot as an assistant ad manager. She only had one stipulation, her business card would read “Associate Ad Manager”. Those who know Brenda know that she got her way. Brenda dazzled with her intelligence, her charm, her ideas and her ability to get along with everyone and get results.
She worked tirelessly for the Ronald McDonald House in Indianapolis, serving as a founding member of the board. They still invite her back. Her impact even today is still felt. Her success and skills did not go unnoticed, she was recruited to go to regional marketing in Houston. At first reluctant to relocate, two things became the deciding factors – her love for McDonald’s and a store called Neiman Marcus. Brenda was clearly in her zone now. She continued her impressive record while in Houston. Pioneering things like the $1.99 Happy Meal, the launch of the sundae splits, as well as the original breakfast burrito and the Texas Homestyle burger. And without missing a beat, Brenda always looks like she was stepping out of the pages of Vogue.
In spite of all her daily responsibilities, Brenda manages to find the time to mentor people. She’s the den mother of a summer intern program whose success is due in part Brenda’s efforts to recruit the best and brightest to work for McDonald’s. And who at McDonald’s hasn’t benefitted from one of her famous To-Do Lists? Something everyone has grown to love about Monday mornings at McDonald’s.
Her passion for the brand is endless, as are her days. She literally takes her work home. Anyone who’s been to her house knows that her specially designed garage is known as the national archives of McDonald’s. But there isn’t a garage big enough to house all the contributions Brenda has made to McDonald’s. She is dedicated, fearless, focused, professional and loyal. From her start as the first female ad manager for McDonald’s to the leader of a multimillion dollar advertising network, Brenda is loved by and will be missed by many.