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McD seeks to jazz up employees with contest

ORLANDO, Fla. As McDonald’s Corp. convenes this week in Orlando for its 2010 Worldwide Owner/Operator Convention, 12 crew members from McDonald’s units in 11 countries on five continents will compete to be named the “Voice of McDonald’s.”

Begun in 2006 and held every two years, the singing competition is open to any worker at McDonald’s more than 32,000 restaurants worldwide, said Rich Floersch, the company’s executive vice president and chief human resources officer. This year, more than 10,000 crew members entered the contest, and more than 680,000 people voted online to narrow the field to 12 global finalists.

“When you’ve got 1.7 million people working in your restaurants, you’re going to have incredible talent, and this is a way to shine a light on that and give them an opportunity,” Floersch said.

The grand-prize winner may take home $25,000, but the world’s largest restaurant chain also will benefit from the positive publicity and greater employee good will and engagement, Floersch said.

“If we can get our employees excited about a program like this ... you’re offering something unique that makes them feel absolutely charged up, and that’s how you develop a strong employment brand,” he said. “When you differentiate from competitors by way of menu or decor, the same principle applies to differentiating yourself for your employees.”

Finalists for “Voice of McDonald’s” will compete in two rounds of a final competition in front of 15,000 McDonald’s owner-operators at this week’s convention. They will receive professional choreography and vocal coaching and will meet with music industry agents and executives. A panel including recording artist Richard Marx, Sony co-president Jody Gerson and industry agent Ken Hertz will judge the competition.

Floersch said the “Voice of McDonald’s” contest is gaining traction in some fast-developing markets, such as China, where the company recently opened a Hamburger University campus on the mainland and plans to build 175 stores this year.

“We had something like 5,000 entries from China, which is a relatively new market for us,” Floersch said. “The energy that’s created around Voice of McDonald’s in a market like that is absolutely incredible.”

All of the company’s major divisions are represented in the contest's finalists, including two from the United States, Fatima Poggi and Eddie Davenport. The two singers both work for the same owner-operator in Michigan, though they’re employed at different locations.

Other finalists are:

  • Weijie Wu, from Guanzhon, China
  • Ni Kadek Arini, from Bali, Indonesia
  • Yui Nakayama, from Tokyo
  • Jin Hur, from Goyang City, South Korea
  • Chenee Capuyan, from Davao, Philippines
  • Gaetan Nieto, from Antibes, France
  • Roger Corneille, from Deurne, Netherlands
  • Ana Cepello Cobos, from Seville, Spain
  • Evelyn Cardenas Portillo, from San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Jesus Miguel Molinares Espinoza, from Lima, Peru

The “Voice of McDonald’s” winner from 2008, Natercia Pintor of Portugal, now has an album out that includes a track written by famed producer Rodney Jerkins, who was a judge at that year’s competition and flew Pintor to his studio in Los Angeles to collaborate.

The 2010 winner of “Voice of McDonald’s” will be announced April 22.

Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected].

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