McDonald’s Corporation was a global sponsor of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and a member of The Olympic Partners program (TOP).  As a top sponsor, McDonald’s enjoyed global marketing rights and category exclusivity.
McDonald’s and Burson-Marsteller’s created a communications program with several objectives:  leverage the Olympics sponsorship to enhance customers’ connection to the McDonald’s Brand Promise worldwide, provide a foundation on which McDonald’s countries could build successful marketing/PR activities and momentum leading up to the Games in September 2000, and build pride throughout the McDonald’s System that translated to world-class service for customers everywhere in every community.
McDonald’s sponsorship of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games presented a few challenges:
    Clutter – too many different McDonald’s Olympic stories to tell
  • Skeptical McDonald’s system – past Olympic sponsorship programs came with few local extensions/resources to activate McDonald’s worldwide system
  • Olympic sponsorship needs to be more than a 16-day event – make it relevant at the restaurant level to involve the entire system as well as customers/community in the Olympic Games sponsorship
Burson-Marsteller researched Olympic media coverage from the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and 1998 Games in Nagano by reviewing McDonald’s and other corporate sponsor news mentions and story placements.  Additionally, we looked at key learnings documents, and internal post-Olympic surveys from McDonald’s/Burson-Marsteller sponsorships of the 1996 and 1998 Olympic Games to determine the success of past strategies and identify existing opportunities to capitalize on for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
To overcome the above issues, McDonald’s strategies included:
  • Feeding the athletes and spectators at the Games
  • Bringing its best employees to the Games as part of the International Crew
  • Implementing Olympic marketing promotions around the world
  • Sponsoring the Sydney 2000 Olympic Youth Camp (as part of its Olympic Games sponsorship) which brought 400 young men and women from 200 Olympic countries to Sydney for the Games
Olympic Achievers Program
All 190 McDonald’s countries were invited to participate in the McDonald’s Olympic Achievers global youth recognition program, which honored outstanding individuals who excelled in sports, academics and community service, ages 16-18
Olympic Achievers programs were coordinated with individual Olympic Committees
Media Relations Campaign
The media relations campaign strategy included:
  • Developing unique story angles
  • Strategic timing of contact with reporters and placement of stories
  • Pitching the following news angles to leverage McDonald’s Olympic efforts
    • Sponsorship and McDonald’s renewal in 2000 for the 2001-2004 Quadrennium including the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City and the 2004 Summer Games in Athens
    • McDonald’s Olympic foodservice – including specialty products and food consumption facts
    • International Crew
    • McDonald’s Olympic Achievers
    • Presence of McDonald’s executives at the Games
    • Special Media Events
Pre-Games – Simultaneous flag raising events in Oak Brook, Illinois; Sydney, Australia; Salt    Lake City, Utah; and Athens, Greece to announce McDonald’s global sponsorship through 2004
In Sydney  – Olympic Achievers Welcome Event with Carl Lewis
Olympic Achievers Program
McDonald’s distributed a series of field guidelines to the worldwide system explaining the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games sponsorship and how to execute a local McDonald’s Olympic Achiever program
Contained program ideas and press material templates for countries to modify for their market
Media Relations Campaign
Media tools were created and distributed:
  • Press kits were distributed announcing the “100 day away” mark from the start of the Sydney Games and McDonald’s sponsorship of the 2002 and 2004 Olympic Games
  • Reporter’s Notebooks were distributed complete with McDonald’s meal coupons, fun food facts and event information
  • U.S. and global press kit were mailed prior to Opening Ceremonies including press releases, fact sheets, International Crew and Olympic Achiever profiles, and maps
  • Daily press releases were distributed updating McDonald’s sponsorship news
  • B-roll was distributed of McDonald’s events in Sydney (e.g. soundbites from McDonald’s Olympic Achievers from around the world)
  • Select executive interviews during the Games
Special Media Events were hosted:
Pre-Games Flag Raising
Worked with the United States Olympic Committee, the International Olympic Committee, and with local PR agencies representing the McDonald’s Australia, Greece and Salt Lake to host simultaneous flag raising ceremonies for the 2002 and 2004 Olympic sponsorship announcement
Welcome Event with Carl Lewis in Sydney
Worked with the United States Olympic Committee, International Olympic Committee, McDonald’s Australia and its public relations agency, PPR, to coordinate at McDonald’s Central in Sydney Olympic Park. 
  • Designated an on-site team to work with media and implement Welcome Event
  • Coordinated with Sydney 2000 International Youth Camp to detail arrival of 400 Olympic Achievers
  • Invited Carl Lewis to host event with Jack Greenberg
  • Activated worldwide system to invite country media
  • Strategic media pitching/placement for key U.S. and international media
  • Arranged on-site interviews for media with U.S. and global McDonald’s management spokespeople, Carl Lewis, Olympic Achievers and International Crew
  • Distributed media materials, B-roll and photos to on-site and select U.S. and global media
Media Coverage
  • Between June and October 2000, more than 900 positive print stories appearing in all 50 states and 18 other    countries, and 10 hours of TV news coverage generated more than 350 million media impressions. 
  • Major placements included The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CNN, CNBC Asia, Reuters, AP, The International Herald Tribune and The Sydney Morning Herald
  • More than 50 media outlets present on-site at the Welcome Event with Carl Lewis
McDonald’s Worldwide System Participation
  • Over half (100 of 190) of the McDonald’s countries worldwide sent Olympic Achievers to participate in the Sydney 2000 International Youth Camp, generating excitement in each country for their Achiever’s
  • At least 30 countries requested our on-site B-roll, photos and media materials to pitch to their country’s media
20 countries sent International Crew to work at McDonald’s venues in the Athletes’ Village and in Sydney Olympic Park