Not Lovin’ It: Why McDonald’s and the Olympics Parted Ways After 41 Years

Jun 16, 2017  •  Post A Comment

McDonald’s pulled the plug on its long-running Olympics sponsorship three years before the deal was due to expire, Reuters reports. The fast-food company has been a sponsor of the Olympic Games for 41 years, and first became involved in the Olympics way back in 1968.

The move reflects McDonald’s “focus on its core business as well as rising Olympics sponsorship costs and declining TV ratings,” the story reports.

“McDonald’s deal would have run through the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, and bowing out will likely to save it hundreds of million of dollars if it had continued into the next four-year Olympics cycle and beyond,” Reuters reports. “McDonald’s has been trying to hold down costs as it invests in improving food quality, restaurant service and online ordering to woo back U.S. diners. Intense competition has gnawed away at sales.”

Said McDonald’s Global Chief Marketing Officer Silvia Lagnado: “We are reconsidering all aspects of our business and have made this decision in cooperation with the IOC to focus on different priorities.”


  1. This should be a huge wake-up call to broadcast TV. When a major advertiser like McDonalds no longer sees the value in supposedly top programming like the Olympics, you know that broadcast TV is in deep deep n trouble. Broadcast TV needs to dramatically reinvent itself, but that is not going to happen as long as the networks continue to be closed to outsiders, and as long as the decision makers continue to be in their 40’s, 50’s, and even 60’s. Anyone over 40 right now generally has outdated thinking regarding what appeals to millennials and younger people for video entertainment. ABC, CBS, NBC, or FOX would do well to hire some top creative and programming people from You Tube, for example.

  2. This could also be fallout from global politics. South Korea is beginning to change their relationship with US and looking at increasing relationships with China and North Korea. China is building their own island military bases in the South China Sea; and becoming more aggressive in Asia. Caught in the middle of that is Japan. Do major companies like McDonald’s want to take the risk of being involved in major athletic events in those countries that could be disrupted by political protests (or worse) that will become the focus of 24 hour news? Do they want to take the risk of their logos being in the background of those protests? Look at what has happened to Rio after the Olympics. Does any company want to be connected to those situations. Don’t be surprised if other major consumer product companies reconsider their relationship with the Olympics and also the World Cup, which has an even more controversial set of upcoming event locations.

  3. It sounds as if the first comment came from a millennial salesperson for a cable channel. Keep in mind, broadcast is entirely different from a cable channel (and yes, they’re a channel, not a network).
    This is absolutely a cost cutting move for McDonalds. The Olympics, regardless of fragmented ratings, reach over 85% of the GLOBAL population. Broadcast will always be KING, and the only thing they have to continually reinvent is their programming in prime. The cable ‘channels’ have joined in on the fun by complementing the network with their thousands of hours of coverage. The 18 day event crushes the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Daytona 500, the Stanley Cup and the NBA Championship combined. You can throw the niche demographic out the window with the Olympics, EVERYBODY watches them.

  4. Robert — “as long as the decision makers continue to be in their 40’s, 50’s, and even 60’s (even!!!!). Anyone over 40 right now generally has outdated thinking regarding what appeals to millennials…”


    Offensive, ageist and just plain lacking in judgement: ‘you must be exactly like me to know me’. is your theory, is it?

    Cretinous, compartmentalised thinking like yours is far more likely to result in disconnects. In my over 40’s opinion, that is.

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