McDonald’s has ended its 41-year sponsorship deal with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) three years early as part of a review of its marketing spend and a “new global growth plan”.
McDonald’s and the IOC claim the decision was mutual, but it would seem a shift in priorities at McDonald’s precipitated the change. McDonald’s global chief marketing officer Silvia Lagnado says while the company has been “proud to support the Olympic movement”, it was time for a rethink of its marketing strategy.
“As part of our global growth plan, we are reconsidering all aspects of our business and have made this decision in cooperation with the IOC to focus on different priorities,” explains Lagnado.
The move leaves the Olympics without an official food sponsor. The IOC says it has no immediate plans to appoint a direct replacement, with plans to “review the category in the broader context of existing Olympic marketing programmes”.
Olympic sponsors, particularly at the top level that McDonald’s previously occupied, do tend to change relatively regularly. Alibaba is the most recent addition to the roster, but others including AT&T and Budweiser have all departed recently.
It is, however, unusual for a deal to end early, and there will be speculation over how much it has cost McDonald’s to terminate the contract or whether the doping scandals that have dogged athletics over recent years played any role. Terms of the separation were not disclosed.