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McDonald's pulls out of Olympics sponsorship

News, 19 June 2017
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GLOBAL: McDonald's has sponsored the Olympic Games for more than 40 years, but now the global restaurant chain is ending its association with the International Olympic Committee's TOP partnership with immediate effect.

The two organisations issued a joint press release at the end of last week, confirming that they have mutually agreed to bring their worldwide TOP partnership to an end because McDonald's wants to focus on other marketing and business strategies.

"In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, we understand that McDonald's is looking to focus on different business priorities," said Timo Lumme, Managing Director of IOC Television and Marketing Services.

"For these reasons, we have mutually agreed with McDonald's to part ways. I would like to thank our friends at McDonald's on behalf of the IOC for the commitment the company has shown to the Olympic Movement over many decades," he added.

"As part of our global growth plan, we are reconsidering all aspects of our business and have made this decision in cooperation with the IOC to focus on different priorities," said Silvia Lagnado, Global CMO at McDonald's.

According to the statement, the IOC has no immediate plans to appoint a direct replacement sponsor for its retail food operations and said it plans to review the category "in the broader context of existing Olympic marketing programmes".

However, McDonald's will continue to sponsor the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang in South Korea, with the right to carry out marketing only in that country.

The company also will deliver its Games-times operations, including restaurants at the Olympic Park and the Olympic athletes' village.

McDonald's is the latest sponsor to walk away from the Olympics after a long-term relationship and follows the likes of Budweiser, Citi, Hilton, TD Ameritrade and AT&T.

According to Advertising Age, there has been some speculation that US-focused advertisers may have less interest in the forthcoming Olympic Games in South Korea, Japan and China because of the time difference with the US.

While McDonald's has made its strategic decision to move on, the IOC noted in its joint statement that it continues to have long-term sponsorship agreements with other major firms.

These include Bridgestone, Panasonic and Toyota through to 2024, Alibaba through to 2028, and Omega up until 2032 under its current arrangement.

Data sourced from McDonald's, IOC, Advertising Age; additional content by WARC staff

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