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  • McDonald's Disavows Influence for 2016 Olympics


    09/26/08

    (ATR) McDonald’s Global Chief Marketing officer says the company is not siding with Chicago in the race for the 2016 Olympics, contrary to comments made a week ago by another McDonald’s executive.

    That exec, John Lewicki, senior director of alliance marketing, provoked controversy at a sponsorship symposium in New York when he declared that if Chicago was named host of the 2016 Olympics, McDonald’s would renew its worldwide Olympic sponsorship beyond 2012.

    "The decision on 2016 will determine whether we’re a sponsor after that," said Lewicki at the Sports Business Daily Sponsorship Symposium.

    "The international market is very important to us, but some of the cities they are picking are not. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that if it’s not Chicago, that we won’t renew, but if it is Chicago, we probably will."

    Lewicki, however, appears to have spoken out of school, based on a statement sent to Around the Rings from a much-higher up, Global Chief Marketing Officer Mary Dillon.

    "As a sponsor for more than 30 years, we adhere to the policies the IOC has in place around future bid cities, which includes strict neutrality throughout the bid process,” Dillon says in a statement issued to counter Lewicki’s comments.

    "As a global company, we highly value all of the potential host cities for the 2016 Games. In fact, in every one of the competing bid cities we have a strong local McDonald’s presence,” she adds.

    Clearly, there are links between Chicago and McDonald’s. The world’s number-one restaurant chain has its headquarters in a Chicago suburb. McDonald’s chairman Andrew McKenna is fund raising chair for the Chicago bid, but his role at McDonald’s is a non-executive role.

    Comments from Olympic sponsors favoring one city over another are against the rules established by the IOC for the conduct of bids for the Games.

    Although news reports have indicated that a complaint from another 2016 city may be filed with the IOC Ethics Commission, an IOC official says none has been lodged.

    Even if there was a complaint, it’s difficult to imagine what course of action the IOC could take against inopportune comments by an employee of a sponsor.

    Around the Rings understands that McDonald’s has sent the IOC a statement from another high-ranking executive that states McDonald’s neutrality in the race for 2016.

    That neutrality was also spelled-out in August by Johan Jervoe, vice president for Global Marketing, when he appeared on a panel of sponsors at an Around the Rings Newsmaker Breakfast in Beijing.

    "Yes, we are
    "As a global company, we highly value all of the potential host cities for the 2016 Games," says McDonald’s Global Chief Marketing officer Mary Dillon. (ATR)
     based in Chicago, but we also are based in Tokyo. We have a significant presence in Spain. It doesn’t come as a surprise that we’re in Rio, too," said Jervoe.

    "We do not call the IOC. It is clearly not our role. I’m from Denmark. I’ll be happy when the result is decided in Copenhagen," he said.

    The question of neutrality was echoed by other panelists from GE and Panasonic, a Japan-based brand for which Tokyo is a hometown bid.

    Gerhard Heiberg, chair of the IOC Marketing Commission, said he would not comment on the impact of the 2016 race on whether McDonald’s would renew its sponsorship.

    Written by Ed Hula.

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