How McDonald’s Survived in London Olympics 2012

 “McDonald’s commitment to enhancing the customer experience from our menu and operations to our value and convenience – continues to move us closer to becoming our customers’ favorite place and way to eat and drink.”
– CEO McDonald’s Restaurants.

McDonald’s is one of the greatest brands in the world.

Kids love it, elders love it and youngsters love it too.

No matter you are in Europe, Asia, US or Far East, big “M” signage attracts you as a choice for quick bite. The restaurant chain operates in 117 countries and employees over 1.7 million people. How many people are indirectly engaged with McDonald’s, information which is too hard to obtain. One can only guess “Millions”!

Despite its massive outreach, the brand has suffered from bad publicity too.

Its Twitter campaign #McStories went bananas. And more recently, at London Olympics 2012 where McDonald’s was one of the lead sponsors, the brand got another hit when brand managers were trying to improve ratings, and in the process, they managed to get Mayor of London speak to reporters saying that criticism of McDonald’s was “all just bourgeois snobbery”.

Mayor said that “It’s classic liberal hysteria about very nutritious, delicious, food – extremely good for you I’m told – not that I eat a lot of it myself,” he said. “Apparently this stuff is absolutely bursting with nutrients.”

Comments were not so liked by the McDonald’s haters who consider fast food as an extremely bad thing and the massive negative reactions became viral when a famous comedian Frankie Boyle who has over 800K Twitter followers tweeted “Don’t know how much sponsorship McDonalds paid for the Olympic mayor to be a fucking clown”.

Large brands such as McDonald’s, Coca Cola and others invested Sterling 750 million as sponsorship money in Olympics. It was awful for McDonald’s branding team to see that during Olympics 2012, Tweeter popularity tracker ranked McDonald’s at very low.

Logically speaking this massive damage to the brand in world’s greatest sports event and backlash from anti McDonald’s campaigners who were spreading the adverse sentiments on Social Media should have made significant impact on its brand, resulting company’s bottom-line!

But surprisingly, that was not the case. Only on 21st September McDonald’s Chief Executive Officer Don Thompson said, “Today’s announced dividend increase brings our 2012 expected total cash return to shareholders to at least $5.5 billion through dividends and share repurchases.”


Strong brands have multiple shock absorbers. Their biggest asset is the customer base that loves the brand. They keep building the customer base with just one philosophy “Giving customers the best experience whenever they return to them” – McDonald’s not only sustained the adverse campaign, but also kept its brand value intact.


Suresh Shah, M.D., Pathfinders Enterprise

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