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McDonald's Promotes Olympic Sponsorship with New Menu Items, Kids’ Program


Amy Johannes


July 3, 2008

McDonald’s is launching its biggest sponsorship to date around the upcoming summer Olympic Games in Beijing, which includes everything from new menu items, a kids’ program and a global online game.

The company is supporting its sponsorship, in part, with new products across the globe. They include a Beijing Burger and Rice Sticks in Latin America and Chicken and Fish sandwiches and a Shrimp Salad in Russia, among other offerings. In Australia, local restaurants will feature the “Flavor of the Games” promotion, which gives customers five different burgers during the Games: The American, The Euro, The African, The Asian and The Australian.

In the U.S., McDonald’s will promote its newly launched Southern Style Chicken and feature nine Olympic and Paralympic athletes on its cups and bags, which is now rolling out. In addition to the packaging, TV spots and online activities will support the effort.

In announcing the sponsorship details yesterday, Mary Dillon, McDonald’s global chief marketing officer said the activities are “bigger and better” than past efforts.

“We are bringing innovation to sponsorship and connecting with customers in ways we have never done before,” Dillon said.

For example, the fast food chain is kicking off its McDonald’s Champion Kids program, where more than 200 children from 40 countries will visit Beijing to experience the Games, see the Olympic Village see China and meet athletes. Children were selected for the program based on a selection process that included a combination of physical, mental and verbal skills activities. Attendees will also act as correspondents and report stories and experiences to their hometowns.

“It’s a meaningful way to continue our longstanding commitment to the well-being of children,” Dillon said.

Online, the company has launched a global alternate reality game, called “The Lost Ring,” with interactive marketer AKQA and the International Olympic Committee. In it, players work online and offline to find 27 artifacts hidden all over the world and solve the mystery. The game includes a newly unveiled blogger, Track and Field Olympic Gold Medalist Edwin Moses.

More than 2 million people from 100 countries are playing the game at The effort will end in Beijing at the Olympics, Dillon said.

On Aug. 2, McDonald’s will launch a new Web site in the U.S. at, where it will play up its Southern Style Chicken Sandwich with Olympic newcomer BMX athlete Donnie Robinson. The company is featuring Robinson on the site to highlight the sport’s entrance at the Games this year. On the site, visitors can superimpose athletes’ pictures and send them virally on to friends, Dillon said.

As it past sponsorships, McDonald’s is sending 1,400 employees to Beijing to serve athletes and at four new Olympic venue restaurants. There, the Olympic Champion Crew will participate in a Big Mac building exercise as part of a media event on Aug. 7.

Employees also had the chance to create a short video that that told their own story and experience, and expressed their Olympic spirit using five words. The videos will be posted on on July 7 where people can vote for their favorite.

McDonald’s has been an official sponsor of the Olympic Games since 1976. The Beijing Games mark the company’s sixth as a worldwide partner and its seventh as the official restaurant of the Games. It’s sponsorship run through the 2012 Games in London.





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