Industry News | January 11, 2010

Golden Arches to Bring Winter Games to Life

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With the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver right around the corner—opening ceremonies will be held February 12—McDonald’s, the official restaurant partner of the Olympics, announced its efforts to bring the Games to its customers all over the world.

The announcement was made via live Webcast and featured John Betts, McDonald’s Canada president; Mary Dillon, McDonald’s Global chief marketing officer; and U.S. gold-medal gymnast Shawn Johnson, among others.

McDonald’s participation in the Winter Games is multifaceted and includes on-site restaurants, LTO menu options, promotional advertising and packaging, and charitable efforts.

“For us it’s all about our customers,” Dillon said during the Webcast. “The spirit of the Olympics is very consistent with that of McDonald’s in that we’re both organizations that can touch people of all ages and cultures all over the world, and we’re excited to be associated with this great movement.”

Three new McDonald’s restaurants are being built to accommodate the 10,000 Olympic athletes and crew and 3,000 media members that will descend on Vancouver through the Games’ end on February 28. Two of the units are located in the Olympic Villages—one each in Vancouver and Whistler—and one is in the Main Media Center in Vancouver.

“Athletes love McDonald’s food, and we’ve seen and heard this over the years,” Dillon said. “We know we feed more than their appetite—we feed their spirit.”

The three new units will be staffed by the McDonald’s Olympic Champion Crew, which includes 300 McDonald’s employees from around Canada. Each unit includes energy efficient lighting and equipment that can be reused in Canadian McDonald’s after the Games.

“We’re also proud to participate in the Vancouver Organizing Committee’s efforts to assure that these are the first-ever carbon-neutral games, by supporting their carbon offsetting program,” Dillon said, referencing the Committee’s Carbon Partner program.

To promote the Winter Games around the world, McDonald’s is releasing market-specific commercials and packaging that feature Olympic athletes.

The promotions are most prominent in the Games’ home country. Betts said in the Webcast that Canadian marketing includes six new commercials, Olympic-themed store decorations, and even LTO menu options.

“We’re bringing the games to life for our customers inside the restaurants with images of world-class Canadian athletes,” he said. “We want them to know that McDonald’s is their Olympic headquarters.”

The new menu options to be offered for a limited time at Canada McDonald’s include a S’mores Pie, a Crème Brulee Crunch McFlurry, and a Parmigiana Chicken Snack Wrap.

Two McDonald’s programs that will correlate with the Winter Olympic Games follow in the company’s efforts to both give back to the community and maintain its commitment to children.

The McDonald’s Champion Kids program, which was first held at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, brings select kids from all over the world between the ages of six and 14 to Vancouver to attend Olympic events and meet the athletes. The kids will blog from the games and report back to their hometown news outlets.

McDonald’s is also helping to fund the construction of three accessible playgrounds in the Vancouver area.

“In the spirit of our commitment to children, three world-class accessible playgrounds will be built in Vancouver, Richmond, and Whistler,” Betts announced in the Webcast.

“To create them, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Canada has partnered with the province of British Columbia, the Rick Hansen Foundation, and the 2010 Legacies Now organization.”

Betts said that though McDonald’s efforts to promote the 2010 Olympic Winter Game are extensive, the opportunity to connect the quick-serve chain with Canada and the rest of the world is worth the trouble.

“The return in terms of the financial investment is just one part of it,” he said. “The opportunity to connect with millions of Canadians here in our home country and folks around the world, I think, is just immeasurable in terms of what the returns are.

“Our customers are very excited about it, and our employees and owner/operators are just thrilled to be engaged with the games. It’s almost priceless.”

By Sam Oches