LAUSANNE: McDonald’s has ended its longtime Olympic sponsorship dating back to 1976, the International Olympic Committee announced.
The US fast food giant has supported the Olympics since the Montreal Games and although the split takes place with immediate effect they will continue to be a sponsor at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang.
“The IOC and McDonald’s have announced that they have mutually agreed to bring their worldwide partnership to an end,” an IOC statement confirmed.
The burger chain, which is cutting its Olympic ties with three years of its contract still to run, was one of the IOC’s heavyweight “TOP” partners along with the likes of Coca Cola, Visa, Bridgestone, Panasonic, Toyota and Omega.
The IOC, giving the reasons behind the divorce, wrote: “In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, we understand that McDonald’s is looking to focus on different business priorities.”
McDonald’s global chief marketing officer Silvia Lagnado commented: “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.”
Whilst McDonald’s first became an official backer at Montreal in 1976 and a TOP partner in 1997, the company’s Olympic appetite was first whetted at the 1968 Grenoble Winter Games.
McDonald’s on their website explained how they “airlifted” burgers to US Olympic athletes who had become “so homesick for American food” in the French Alpine city.
Over the decades the fast food chain has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars into the IOC’s cash tills and had a popular presence at every Olympic village since.
At last year’s Rio Games their promotion of free meals for athletes triggered lengthy queues from sunrise to sunset.
One marketing guru suggested the split was logical given the emphasis on health-conscious diets.