McDonald's Has Olympic-sized Plans For London

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It's one year until the 2012 Olympic Games in London, and McDonald's says it's going all out in its 35th year of sponsorship of the global sporting event.

In a webcast on Wednesday morning, McDonald's gathered corporate executives and Olympic athletes from four locations around the world to unveil their marketing plans for the games. "The Olympic Games bring the world together unlike any other event," said McDonald's global marketing officer Dean Barrett during the webcast. "This one-year-out date is important for us because for London 2012, every dimension of our sponsorship will be bigger and better than ever."

While the executives were quiet about overall marketing plans (although it seems safe to believe there will be heavy advertising and other marketing around the event), they stressed the company's presence at the event, highlighting the four restaurants it will have in the Olympic village (including a two-story, four-kitchen structure that will be the world's busiest McDonald's in the world during the games) and estimates that it will serve 1.75 million meals during the games. To emphasize the importance of McDonald's presence at past games, former Olympic athletes U.S. swimmer Dana Torres, U.K. track star Dean Macey and U.S. soccer player Julie Foudy were present on the webcast to describe how visiting the McDonald's facility in the Olympic village gave them a sense of "home."

Torres will also serve as the global ambassador for McDonald's major kids initiative -- Champions of Play -- surrounding the games, which encourages a balanced approach to nutrition and activity for children. The Champions of Play program will involve grassroots activities for kids ages 6-10, giving up to 200 of them (and their guardians) a chance to travel to the Olympic Games and have the opportunity to interact with athletes at the games.

"This is a new approach of connecting families to the Olympics," said Kevin Newell, McDonald's global chief brand officer. "There's no bigger stage in the world than the Olympic games."

During the year, McDonald's will unveil several initiatives around its Champions of Play program, including a Web site promoting balanced eating and activities, ways for kids to track their physical activity online and special Happy Meal packaging with information and tips about balanced eating and play.

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