McDonald’s, Coke defend Olympic choice

McDonald’s and Coca-Cola have defended their sponsorship of the Olympic Games after criticisms about their involvement were levelled at the brands by the president of the International Olympic Committee.

McDonald's Olympic Campaign

Jacques Rogge said in an interview with the Financial Times this week that growing levels of obesity had led to a “question mark” over the two brands’ sponsorship of the Games. He added that the choice to renew McDonald’s’ sponsorship deal in particular was “not an easy decision”.

A McDonald’s spokeswoman says the company recognises public health issues like obesity are complex matters that cannot be solved by businesses or governments alone.

She adds: “Ultimately it’s up to individuals to make the right food, drink and activity choices for themselves and our broad range of menu options in a variety of sizes, together with the nutrition information, means that customers can make more informed choices.”

The Games is set to be the “biggest catering operation in the world”. McDonald’s claims that not many businesses could rise to such a challenge and provide “high quality British food quickly and safely”.

James Eadie, Olympic portfolio director at Coca-Cola Great Britain, says the values of Coca-Cola and the Olympics are “extremely intertwined”. Coca-Cola has sponsored the Olympics since 1928.

He adds: “The Olympics gives us an opportunity to demonstrate what the modern business is all about and allows us to accelerate and showcase sustainability.”

The company is also offering the “widest portfolio” of products at any Games, 75% of which will be water, juice or reduced sugar varieties.

Coca-Cola is looking to drive a recycling message around the Olympic Park. It aims to turn every soft drink pack recycled within the venue into a new bottle, which will be back on shelf within six weeks of consumption.

Both companies have also highlighted the social legacy their sponsorship will leave after the Games.

McDonald’s is training 70,000 Games volunteers and awarding some with nationally-recognised hospitality qualifications as part of its legacy ambition. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola is working with think tank Demos to create a model to demonstrate the social return on investment its sponsorship will bring from areas such as its Street Games youth sports project.

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