McDonald’s Corp. has launched Champions of Play, a global campaign for children’s wellness, as part of its renewal as the official restaurant of the Olympic Games through 2020.
The company said its more than 33,000 restaurants around the world would host such grassroots programs as youth sports leagues and competitions, feature special Happy Meal packaging and in-store materials, and promote a website that showcases Olympic athletes and provides ways to track their progress.
As many as 200 children from around the world will win a chance to see the 2012 Summer Games in London by participating in McDonald’s local Champions of Play events.
“As a top sponsor, we challenge ourselves to keep raising our game and evolving our sponsorship through programs like McDonald’s Champions of Play,” said Kevin Newell, global chief brand officer of the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company.
“Olympic athletes are great role models for kids today, and their ability to motivate children and families to get active is unparalleled, Newell said. “McDonald’s looks forward to connecting kids with Olympic athletes and helping them see that no dream is beyond their reach.”
McDonald’s recruited five-time Olympian Dara Torres, who has won 12 medals for women’s swimming, as the global ambassador for the program. Torres will be one of several athletes to interact with children on the Champions of Play website, where aspiring Olympians can receive encouragement from current athletes.
McDonald’s president and chief operating officer Don Thompson said other athletes including former brand ambassadors and McDonald’s employees like sprinter Carl Lewis and figure skater Katarina Witt also could participate with the Champions of Play website.
“The great thing about these athletes is that they don’t run in and run out; they spend a lot of time with our young people,” Thompson said. “They’re very special people, many of whom have interacted with our Ronald McDonald House Charities.”
McDonald’s also would aim to raise its game for this summer’s Olympic Games in London, opening four restaurants in Olympics venues with the brand’s “most contemporary designs ever,” Thompson said. The chain’s Olympic Champion Crew will bring together 2,000 of its best employees and managers from around the world to serve the athletes, coaches, media and spectators.
Thompson added that the four Olympic restaurants would feature “our most expansive menu ever,” pulling together favorites from around the world, including Real Fruit Smoothies from the United States, porridge from the United Kingdom, and McWraps from Europe.
McDonald’s sponsorship also includes its involvement as the official restaurant of the Youth Olympic Games through 2020, beginning with the 2014 competition in Nanjing, China.
McDonald’s has been a sponsor of the Olympics since the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble, France.