McDonald’s Serves Up Competitive Branding At 2010 Winter Olympics

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The 2010 Winter Olympics offers world-class athletes an intense and competitive environment to showcase their talents. Yet no other participant is preparing more intensely for the games than McDonald’s.

That’s right, McDonald’s.

The fast food juggernaut has devised a marketing strategy that is as specific and yet as varied as the many competitions being offered at the games next February. McDonald’s is embracing the Winter Olympics in every aspect, and will fill everywhere from host city Vancouver to social networking phenomenon Twitter with its messaging.[more]

The brand, however, is integrating the spirit of the games into its advertising as well. It created the McDonald’s Olympic Champion Crew, the restaurants own all-star team comprised of 300 of McDonald’s best employees in Canada. The elite crew will run the two McDonald’s in the Olympic Villages.

Also, the brand will once again sponsor the McDonald’s Kids program, which it originally conducted at the Beijing Summer Games in 2008. The program selects children from different nations and allows them participate in media events and mingle with athletes. McDonald’s is clearly embracing the Game’s values and building its campaign on the themes of excellence, teamwork, and respect.

There will be celebrity athlete endorsements too, of course. McDonald’s has signed US athletes J.R. Celski and Patrick Denee and Canadian stars Patrick Chan and Alexandre Bilodeau to appear in its advertising. Inevitably, cynics will sneer at the idea of athletes eating fast food, but the truth is they do. In fact, the athletes have a favorite item: Chicken McNuggets. McDonald’s has even built an online campaign around this fact by hosting a scavenger hunt on Facebook and Twitter that offers the quirky call to action, “How do you McNugget?”

Wherever there are star athletes, brands won’t be far behind. For branding industry experts 2010 portends to be an excellent year as the upcoming Olympics and World Cup offer not only the best in athletic competition, but the best in branding matches. McDonald’s certainly has its game face on.

What other brands can you identify that are going to give McDonald’s a run for its money in winning the attention of sports fans?

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