The Vagisil Factor
That Pesky Demographics Problem in Marketing

McDonald's Connects Brand through Sponsorship of Summer Olympics Games in Beijing

Beijingolympiclogo The Olympic Games are back this summer which are helping to again bring out our country's sense of patriotism which we can really use a good dose off right now. We're able to watch some of the Olympic trials on TV and we're hearing and reading more and more about our U.S. teams and the individuals who are getting ready to compete in Beijing. I wrote my first post on my blog on July 4th about the 2008 Summer Olympics in honor of celebrating America's birthday. There I promised to start writing a series of posts relating to the marketing surrounding the games, so here I go.

Millions of dollars are spent by brands to be official sponsors of the Olympic Games as well as supporters of the individual teams. This year some of the corporate brands that have been sponsors for years are getting some harsh criticism from international human rights activists that feel they are endorsing China's human rights record. However, Worldwide Olympic Game sponsors such as Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Kodak and Visa are all back. Unfortunately however, following the closing ceremonies of the Beijing 2008 Olympic games, our Rochester hometown brand, Kodak, will conclude it's sponsorship as the Worldwide Official Imaging Sponsor which it has held for the past 100+ years.

McdonaldsolympicMcDonald's has been a partner of the Games for 40 years and as the Official Restaurant of the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing they are in charge of feeding the athletes. McDonald's Executive Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer is Mary Dillon who leads the company's worldwide marketing efforts and global brand strategy across 118 countries. Mary has spearheaded McDonald's biggest Olympic sponsorship to date which includes everything from new menu items, interactive promotions that include a new employee video contest, a youth well-being program and a global online game.

The McDonald's Olympic Champion Crew program is a longstanding McDonald's Olympic tradition that recognizes and rewards its top restaurant employees.

  • 1,400 of McDonald's employees from around the world will travel to Beijing to serve both the athletes and spectators of others at McDonald's four new Olympic venue restaurants.
  • To celebrate their skills and the shared Olympic ideals of teamwork and excellence, McDonald's will host a Big Mac Building competition during its press event in Beijing on August 7.
  • These McDonald's restaurant all-stars will be competing to assemble the highest quality Big Mac sandwiches. This year to tie in with the user-generated video contest trend, the Olympic Spirit of McDonald's Video Contest invited the Crew to create a short video that tells their own story and experience and expresses their Olympic spirit. The finalists' videos were just posted on McDonald's website as of Monday and they'll be displayed there for the next four weeks where the public is invited to vote for their favorites. Of the 22 finalists, only one is from the USA. The winning videos will receive medals and up to $2,500.

Marydillion Mary's other accomplishments include the formation of the company's first Global Moms Advisory Panel and innovation in the area of children’s well-being. The McDonald's Champion Kids program is part of this commitment which engages young people in worldwide in activities that focus on body, mind and spirit.

  • More than 200 kids from 40 countries will travel to Beijing for an opportunity to experience the Games, meet athletes, visit the Olympic Village and see the wonders of China.
  • Countries determined their participant selection process through a combination of physical, mental and verbal skills activities.
  • Many of the kids will also act as youth correspondents reporting their stories and experiences back to their hometown media outlets.

McDonald's earlier this year launched a global alternate reality game called The Lost Ring in collaboration with world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal, 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. I originally wrote about the game in this post back in April after I heard USA CMO, Neil Golden, talk about McDonald's promotional marketing programs. The game now includes a newly unveiled blogger, Track and Field Olympic Gold Medalist Edwin Moses. In the spirit of community that the game represents, McDonald's will make a $100,000 donation to Ronald McDonald House Charities Earthquake Relief in China.

On Aug. 2, McDonald’s will launch a new Web site in the U.S.,, 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. A viral marketing component will be included on the site where visitors will be able to superimpose athletes’ pictures and send them virally on to friends.

So with Mary being a triathlete as well as mother of four it has truly helped her connect the McDonald's brand with the Olympics to families across the world. So remember to support McDonald's as well as the other brands that sponsor this year's Summer Olympic Games and the individual teams. They pay a huge price to be official sponsors and without their support these games could not take place. So please buy their products and services and stay clear of those that try and jump on the bandwagon unofficially.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Donna DeClemente

Hi Mark,
Thanks for the comments. I just visited your blog as well and left some thoughts there. Please check out my other post that I wrote last week on this blog about Kodak's efforts around the Olympics. Let the Games Begin!

Mark Khoo

Awesome post on Macs efforts for leveraging their Olympic Sponsorship this year!!

I stumbled upon this after doing my own post on Mac's efforts at

Its great to know the person leading this campaign is able to balance both the family side and sporting side of Macs sponsorship with the Olympics!

I'll be looking out Nike's ambush marketing efforts this year though...

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)