In the U.S., critics have voiced concerns over marketing fast food to children, with items such as the Happy Meal coming under fire. (Getty Images)
(ATR) Happy Meals will make their Olympic debut for McDonald’s at the London Games.
On Wednesday, McDonald’s announced its plans for the 2012 Games, including the decision to offer Happy Meals and healthy menu items at the Olympics.
“We’ll be offering some very high-quality options such as milk, fruit and vegetables,” said Kevin Newell, global chief brand officer for McDonald’s.
Olympic-themed toys will be part of the Happy Meals, which McDonald’s will reveal at a later date.
McDonald’s says it will feature its widest variety of Olympic menu options in London.
While the company will offer traditional menu items like quarter pounders, milkshakes and fries, it will also offer local items such as porridge.
“It’s not a one size fits all menu. We have plenty of portion sizes and different varieties that can fit anyone’s lifestyle and any one’s age,” said Dan Coudreaut, executive chief.
“Burgers and fries are also part of our DNA. I love a Big Mac. However, we have more choice than ever,” he added.
The prominence of healthier items demonstrates that McDonald’s will use the Games to showcase itself as a purveyor of healthy food and lifestyles—two things it is not typically associated with.
McDonald’s will be offered at four new Olympic venue restaurants. One is the traditional Olympic Village restaurant, one to serve media at the Main Press Centre, and two in the Olympic Park, one of which will be the largest restaurant in the world.
During the webcast presentation McDonald’s and the Olympians who spoke about how McDonald’s is the most popular restaurant at the Olympic Village with athletes.
A rendering of McDonald’s restaurant for spectators at Olympic Park.
British Olympian Dean Macey mentioned how at his first Olympics in 2000, he was feeling out of sorts upon arrival to the Olympic Village and he decided to eat. He was so stunned by a free, 24 hour McDonald’s available to athletes, he called his wife in the middle of the night.
Children Aim of Champions at Play
In an effort to get children active and educate them on balanced diets, McDonald’s also launched the “Champions of Play” program in partnership with the IOC.
Through the program, communities can select children to visit London for the Games. The children will meet athletes, play with them in Olympic venues and tour London.
“This will be an unforgettable, inspiring moment for our champions, along with attending the Games, seeing McDonald’s chef demonstrations, taking an exclusive tour of the Olympic Village dining area, visiting London’s cultural sites, and making new friends,” said Newell.
Kevin Newell and Dara Torres.
“McDonald’s has been a long-time and valued partner of the Olympic Movement. We appreciate McDonald’s incredible ability to reach millions of fans with innovative, inspiring programs that connect with the Olympic Spirit,” said IOC President Jacques Rogge in a statement.
In support of this initiative, McDonalds revealed its global ambassador will be Olympic champion swimmer Dara Torres.
“I am really excited about this program. My passion is tied to my desire to make a difference in the lives of children and families, so it’s a natural fit for me to join McDonald’s today,” said Torres.
Showcasing their commitment to quality products, McDonald’s also recently launched its “Open Farms Program” where people can visit the British farms that provide meat to the different chains in the U.K.
“We are championing the farmers who supply our restaurants throughout the U.K. every day, and who will also help us supply food to our four Olympic restaurants at the Games,” said Jill McDonald, CEO of McDonald’s U.K.
The webcast also featured Julie Foudy, three-time U.S. Olympic soccer champion; Terri Moreman, USOC associate director of food and nutrition services and Nanna Meyer, USOC senior sports dietitian.
McDonald’s became the official restaurant of the Olympics at the Atlanta Olympics.
Written by Ann Cantrell
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