- Sponsor: McDonald’s
- Brand Promise: Quality, service, cleanliness, and value
- Olympic Exclusive: Retail Food Service
- Sponsor Since: 1976
- London 2012 Campaign: “We All Make the Games”
- Campaign Cost: £10 million
- Campaign Time: 10 Weeks
- Campaign Scale: Global with various national campaigns running
McDonald’s have been an official sponsor of the Olympic Games since 1976. In the past 36 years, the exclusive food retail servicer has increased their campaign size drastically, becoming a TOP sponsor in 1996. Their campaigns have been extremely successful and have motivated McDonald’s to extend their sponsorship of the Olympics all the way to 2020.
For the London 2012 Olympics, McDonald’s is running a £10 million ad campaign for 10 weeks – prior, during, and post the Games. The “We All Make the Games” campaign will reach a global audience through television, social media, and outdoor advertisements centered on showing the audience mood of the Games.
“The ‘We All Make the Games’ campaign will capture people’s emotions, humour and experiences in real-time”, says Alistair Macrow, McDonald’s UK VP of Marketing, in a recent press release, “we hope to become a barometer for the mood of the nation during the Games.”
The London 2012 campaign will be broken down into 3 stages, running at key times before, during and after the Games. The first stage, which will run one month before the Opening Ceremony, will feature a national outdoor campaign in London and T.V. advertisements on a global scale. Their first commercial, “Rivals”, aired on June 28th and featured fans from all over the world competing for various McDonald’s food. The end of the commercial showed Basketball stars Luol Deng and LeBron James going for gold… and a Big Mac.
The second stage of the “We All Make the Games” campaign will be the largest, focused on portraying the real-time “mood” of the Games. McDonald’s wishes to showcase fans’, athletes’, and volunteers’ emotions, experiences, and stories to those around the world who are not physically in London for the Games. They’ve already begun releasing images of various types of fans – such as the “Nervy-Fretter”, “The Flag Waving Piggybacker”, and the “Clapper”. These types of fans are featured in their latest commercial, which aired on July 13. They will also capture the mood by the use of guerrilla film crews present at the Games and by inviting people to upload their own videos and photos to their official Facebook page. The best clips they gather will be incorporated into a T.V. advertisement that will run during and post Olympics. Apart from these more “traditional” marketing campaigns, they will also be running an online real-time mood-o-meter on the McDonald’s UK website. The goal of this stage of the campaign is to encourage audiences, both at the Olympics and on a global scale, to participate in making the Games their own.
“London 2012 will be the first Olympic and Paralympic Games to be recorded and broadcast by the general public, says Macrow, “attention will undoubtedly be on the world class athletes competing, but it will be the millions of posts, tweets, images and videos uploaded away from the glare of the stadium lights that will reveal the experiences of a nation – the people who will really make the Games.”
This fan-driven campaign isn’t a new marketing tactic, but it’s one that has had increased success with the popularity and growth of social media in the past decade.
The third and final stage of McDonald’s Olympic marketing campaign will take place post Games with T.V. advertisements featuring the best clips, images, and comments gathered during the Olympics by both their professional team and fan engagement on their digital platforms.
On a domestic scale, McDonald’s is also launching a Gold Medal Moments segment on select major broadcasting channels. They’ll be sponsoring spectacular Canadian gold medal moments and showcasing our athletes. McDonald’s will also continue to support and sponsor key Olympian Athletes – Cassie Campbell, Patrick Chan, Alexandre Despatie, Drew Doughty, Marc-André Fleury, and Tessa Bonhomme. Their partnership with these athletes has helped McDonalds with public relations in Canada regarding health and obesity issues by promoting an active lifestyle. The athletes recommend their favorite McDonald’s foods for maintaining a healthy diet and are also ambassadors of McDonald’s Champions of Play campaign, a program that was very successful during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. This campaign allows 200 children to attend the 2012 London Olympics and get the chance to play with their favorite athletes.
Apart from their global marketing campaign, McDonald’s is also executing an internal Olympic campaign. They are committed to their brand promise of quality, service, cleanliness, and value and continue to achieve it through their excellent staff. Their business is very self sufficient, relying on the best people to bring their brand promise to life. In order to reward hard-working employees, they’ve introduced the “Champion Crew” program where over 2000 of McDonald’s top employees from around the world are given the chance to go to London and serve the world’s best athletes. This program motivates employees to do their best as well as boosting overall company morale.
“People are the heart and soul of our company, from the managers and crew behind the counter, to the people who train them,” said Richard Floersch, McDonald’s Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, “We share the Olympic ideals of teamwork, excellence and being your best and celebrate these across our more than 33,000 restaurants around the world. The McDonald’s Olympic Champion Crew program is just one example of the unique opportunities we offer employees.”
McDonald’s is also famous for their Hamburger U program that specifically trains all new franchise owners on running a business. In order for their franchises to be efficient, owners have to learn the context of running a business. The Hamburger U program teaches the basics of running a business to a person with any range of previous skill sets, from starting out to being an experienced franchise owner. Both the Champion Crew and Hamburger U programs are a part of McDonald’s core marketing, which leverage their key asset: the people behind the brand.
There has been some backlash caused by the irony of allowing a fast-food chain to sponsor the Olympics, but McDonald’s is constantly adapting their campaign to put out the media fires. Recently, McDonald’s released a rule that forbid any food retailer within close vicinity of the Olympics from selling French fries (unless served with fish). This caused quite a media fire due to the large hit small, local businesses would receive. McDonald’s later withdrew their rule to minimize negative press. McDonald’s could have taken another route to avoid controversy by competing with local business at the Olympics. By offering a more mobile campaign, they could have allowed their products to be more visible and available to non-Olympic-goers than other fast-food franchises. They could also have had a street presence and a sampling campaign to ensure visibility and increased customer loyalty.
Why It Works
The “We All Make the Games” campaign works for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s not a one off or stand-alone marketing program. Consistency is key and the Olympic campaigns have become a core part of McDonald’s overall marketing strategy. They have extended their commitment to the Games all the way to 2020. Secondly, McDonald’s doesn’t create an Olympic campaign, but rather a corporate campaign. This means that instead of having an Olympics specific marketing campaign, McDonald’s focuses on their core brand promise and utilizes the awareness and global scope of the Olympics to market their message. Instead of a specific “Olympics” message, they create an “Olympicized” themed campaign, always bringing it back to their brand promise of quality, service, cleanliness, and value. The 2012 Olympic campaign also works because it is a holistic campaign whereby by they have integrated a variety of mediums: advertising, PR, use of athletes, community grassroots programs, social media, internal elements to increase productivity and they use the property as a recruitment tool successfully. They seamlessly blend traditional, digital, and creative marketing to bring their message to life. Lastly, the investment in the sponsorship allows them to create a campaign that clearly differentiates McDonald’s from their competitors – the best with the best. They are the only fast-food company that uses the Olympics not only to promote products, but also to assist in recruitment. Employees are given the chance to attend the Olympics if they succeed in their own stores. This offers McDonald’s a competitive edge and builds a community of successful employees.
What does the Future Hold?
Environmental/recycling and global health and obesity backlash will be the biggest challenge McDonald’s faces not only for future Olympic campaigns but for the company as a whole. Success will be determined by how McDonald’s innovates and repositions their product offering to meet the challenges of nutritionists and health care experts worldwide. They are constantly evolving their menu to meet these challenges and time will tell. McDonald’s is in the business of making money, but I feel they are starting to realize how large an impact they have on people and communities around its locations. Marketing efforts could include changes to alter how consumers view their products such as “going local” and using produce from local farms. Fresh, healthy alternatives would greatly improve not only its image, but also the people who consume their food.
Canadian Market Activation: Four youths from across Canada have been selected as part of the McDonald’s Champions of Play program to travel to London and take in selected activities and competitions at the 2012 Olympic Games. As part of McDonald’s Canada’s ongoing commitment to children and their well-being, this program will provide each young athlete, along with a parent or guardian, a unique opportunity to experience the Olympic Games. While in London, they will attend Olympic events, meet athletes, visit tourist destinations and interact with other McDonald’s Champions of Play from around the world. SOURCE: McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Limited
About “The Business of the Olympics”
The Olympics are one of the most watched events in the world. With so much potential revenue at stake, what makes a successful campaign? How can businesses launch marketing campaigns that are creative, innovative, and universal? THE KMAC GROUP’s “The Business of the Olympics” blog series answers these questions by analyzing select Olympic sponsors, on a global and domestic scale, highlighting their campaign successes and areas of improvement, as well as taking a look at key marketing practices during the Olympics such as “ambush” marketing, Olympic clothing licenses, and the risks involved with marketing during the Games. KMAC has advised and executed Olympic programs with sponsors for the 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 Games.