McDonald’s 2012 Olympic plans include its largest unit in the world

July 19, 2011 | by Alicia Kelso

As part of its London 2012 Olympic Games sponsorship plans, McDonald's today unveiled plans for its largest restaurant ever, set for Olympic Park. The two-story, 3,000-square-meter unit is one of four McDonald's that will be built specifically for the summer games.

In addition to being the largest McDonald's in the world, the Olympic Park unit will also be the busiest, according to Jill McDonald, McDonald's U.K. CEO. She was part of a webcast Wednesday to discuss the company's London games sponsorship plans, along with Kevin Newell, EVP, global chief brand officer; Dean Barrett, SVP, global marketing officer; Bridget Coffing, SVP of corporate relations; and Dan Coudreaut, executive chef and senior director of culinary innovation.

The McDonald's team was also joined by Olympians Dara Torres (US swimming), Julie Foudy (US soccer) and Dean Macey (UK decathlon). The '12 games in London marks the ninth consecutive Olympics that McDonald's has served as the Official Restaurant.

In addition to providing a first look at the restaurant designs, the webcast also unveiled staffing strategies for the event and announced a new global initiative, "McDonald's Champions of Play," to encourage kids to eat a balanced meal and stay active.

McDonald's Champions of Play

McDonald's was noticeably absent from the initial list of 19 chains that signed up for the National Restaurant Association's new Kids LiveWell program. But the chain leveraged its Olympic sponsorship to launch another program geared toward children, the "McDonald's Champions of Play" program.

Building on the success of McDonald's kids' program at the Olympic Games in Beijing (2008) and Vancouver (2010), the Champions of Play will bring 200 kids from around the world together for a unique experience in London that includes the opportunity to tour venues and interact with athletes.

The new global program's purpose is to encourage a balanced approach to nutrition and activity for children. In doing so, participating McDonald's countries will initiate grassroots activities for children ages 6 to 10.

The program will feature a website offering balanced eating and "fun" play facts and challenges; digital engagement that allows kids to track their physical activities online; and special Happy Meal packaging featuring information and tips on balanced eating and play.

Torres has been named the Global Athlete Ambassador for the program.

"Our objective is to get millions of kids engaged in balanced eating and fun play," Newell said. "I can't think of a better inspiration to serve as the global ambassador of McDonald's Champions of Play than Olympic athlete and mom Dara Torres."

For the first time, Happy Meals will be served in the Olympic restaurants. McDonald said Olympic-themed promotions will be part of the Happy Meal program, but specifics are not ready to be released.

Also during the games, McDonald's will offer a variety of menu items, including U.K. signatures such as porridge. "It will be the broadest menu in McDonald's Olympic history," McDonald said.

Four new venues and staffing needs

In the fall, McDonald's will begin construction on four new Olympic venue restaurants – one in the Olympic Village, one in the Main Press Center, and two in the Olympic Park for spectators.

One of the Olympic Park outlets will be the largest freestanding McDonald's in the world, with designs by French architect Philip Avanz. The large size will help the company cope with the scale of demand, McDonald said.

"It will feature the equivalent of four McDonald's kitchens so that visitors get great food fast. Visiting McDonald's is fun and the design and graphics in these restaurants will take that to new heights," she added. "We are confident that the look and feel of these cutting edge designs will challenge people's perception of what they would normally expect from us."

Some of the details include:

  • Brightly colored chairs and stools;
  • Plenty of outdoor seating because, according to McDonald, the weather in London in August is "superb;"
  • The Athlete's Village unit features a reflection of street life, with contemporary materials featured throughout and crisp and clean furnishing. This will be juxtaposed by graphic urban art images, such as graffiti;
  • The Press Center location will include design classics such as Chesterfield sofas and garden benches. Partitions will include wooden elements twisted into unique shapes.

Click here to see artist renderings of the planned restaurants.

For those concerned about the eco-effect of constructing four restaurants that are only in use for the 29-day event, McDonald said the units are actually the greenest ever for the company.

"All of them are designed with maximum reuse as the main objective. So the kitchens, equipment, furniture will all be used in other restaurants following the games," she said.

In addition to constructing the largest restaurant in the system, McDonald's is also preparing to hire its largest Olympic crew. Within the next year, the chain will select 2,000 of its top performing restaurant staff from around the world.

The crew will be outfitted in a new, 100-percent recycled uniform conceived by fashion designer Wayne Hemingway.

Also ahead of the games, McDonald's U.K. has launched its "Open Farms" program, offering the chance for customers to see some of the 17,500 British and Irish farms that provide the ingredients and food for the chain's menu.

"By opening up our supply chain, we're allowing people to see for themselves the high-quality ingredients that make up our menu," McDonald said. "We are championing the farmers who supply our restaurants throughout the U.K. every day, and who will help us supply food for our Olympic restaurants."

The 2012 Olympic Games in London will take place from July 27 through Aug. 12, 2012.

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability , Customer Service / Experience , Equipment & Supplies , Food & Beverage , Furniture and Fixtures , Going Green , Health & Nutrition , International , Marketing / Branding / Promotion , Operations Management , Restaurant Design / Layout , Social Responsibility , Staffing & Training , Sustainability

Alicia Kelso / Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with, and has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, and Franchise Asia magazine.
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