McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) has elected Steve Easterbrook as its new executive vice president and global chief brand officer. The 18-year McDonald's veteran returns to the company following a stint as the CEO of Wagamama, a U.K.-based Japanese noodle restaurant chain.

Easterbrook will be responsible for global marketing, menu development, and consumer and business insights. He replaces Kevin Newell, who recently assumed the new role of chief brand and strategy officer for McDonald's USA. 

A U.K. native, Easterbrook became CEO of McDonald's U.K. in 2006. By the end of 2010, after serving as corporate vice president and chief brand officer, he was promoted to president of McDonald's Europe, a role in which he was responsible for around 7,000 restaurants in 39 countries. He left McDonald's the following year to become the CEO of U.K. chain PizzaExpress, and from there he took the reins at Wagamama.

"Steve has demonstrated dynamic leadership and creative thinking within the restaurant industry and throughout his previous career at McDonald's," said McDonald's President and CEO Don Thompson. "I'm thrilled to welcome him back to the Golden Arches and confident that with his expertise, we will reach customers in new and innovative ways."

Easterbrook will report to Thompson and will be based in Oak Brook, Ill.

Fool contributor Kevin Chen has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of McDonald's. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.