McDonalds has officially ended their 41-year sponsorship deal with the International Olympic Committee. The organization broke the news last Friday and revealed that both parties mutually agreed to end their decades-old partnership.
According to the official statement posted on the IOC’s website, the fast-food giant’s decision stems from its desire to focus more on its “core” business. Rising costs and the games’ low TV ratings may have also contributed to their decision to end the sponsorship deal.
The company’s sponsorship of the games traces its roots back to the 1976 Olympics and has been their official food retail sponsor. Up until recently, the fast-food giant held its part of the deal amid decreasing market shares and continued to serve staff and athletes alike for over four decades.
Reuters reported that stiff competition from other fast-food companies has chipped away at the company’s sales particularly at home. Now the company wants to focus on rebuilding by providing better food and better service to regain lost ground.
With McDonalds ending its sponsorship, one of the IOC’s chief worldwide sponsors is now gone. And being the only food retail sponsor of the games, the Olympics is in dire need of a replacement. So who can fill this gap that for 41 years has been sealed shut by the iconic golden arches?
While the Herculean task of feeding thousands of athletes and staff at the Olympic Games seems daunting, there are a number of organizations that can pull it off. This list not only looks at the company’s financial power but its products as well, because while Starbucks can certainly handle the costs, serving nothing but coffee and pastries to athletes is simply unthinkable.
And while the products of its sponsor are far from being considered healthy, it accomplished the task of feeding hungry sportsmen before and after their games. Food Matters reported that some athletes even order as many as 20 food items at a time. So without further ado, here are the possible candidates to be the next Olympic sponsor.
Subway restaurant in Novosibirsk. [Image by К.Артём.1|Wikimedia Commons|Crop and Resize|CC BY-SA 4.0]
Subway is definitely the most qualified to be the next Olympic sponsor as far as food is concerned. Not only does it exceed the previous sponsor in terms of the number of stores but it is also considered to be the fastest growing franchises in the world.
Subway’s menu also offers athletes a wide variety of foodstuffs to choose from. While certainly not the same as those served to them in the past, it certainly fits the bill as far as being a fulfilling meal.
Despite experiencing a slump last year, the company is still ahead of its competition. And with plans for a re-brand set to be implemented this year, a sponsorship in the world’s biggest sporting event could provide a hefty amount of marketing for the company.
Burger King restaurant in Los Angeles. [Image by Nick Ut, File/AP Images]
McDonalds was a sponsor of the Olympics not because it was the epitome of a healthy diet but because of what it could bring to the table, literally. With that in mind, this next candidate could very well be the next Olympic sponsor.
Burger King is known for one thing, burgers. Coincidentally, this is also the product that made the previous food sponsor what it is today. So as far as the menu goes not much will change, as far as flavor is concerned that’s a whole different story.
Burger King also has the financial capacity to shoulder the cost of sponsorship although not as much as Subway. With the company expanding its targeted demographics outside of its male-oriented menu, a little boost from a few Olympic athletes could seal the deal in terms of sales for this billion-dollar burger joint.
YUM! Brands Inc. (Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell)
KFC restaurant in Mountain View, California. [Image by Paul Sakuma, File/AP Images]
While most people don’t know about YUM! Brands Inc. its subsidiaries namely KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell are essentially household names. It is also considered as one of the largest fast food companies in the world.
In terms of financial capacity and food variety, YUM! is certainly capable of sponsoring the Olympics for the next few years. However, whether or not it can surpass its predecessor is a different matter entirely.
If the company does decide to sponsor the Olympic Games, it might do so using one of its subsidiaries. Given that most companies use the sponsorship as a way to market their brand, using the brand of its subsidiaries rather than its own could help in terms of recognition.
Other Possible Fast Food Candidates
Wendy’s could become the next Olympic food retail sponsor. However as of this moment, the company is not yet at a level financially where it could sustain long-term sponsorship of such a massive event.
The same goes for Dominos. Despite being a large fast food franchise itself, sponsoring such an event could seriously threaten its earnings as a company.
These two could possibly do it. However, the risks involved are far greater than the potential reward. With even McDonalds opting out of sponsoring the Olympics, smaller players need to be weary before jumping on such an expensive multi-year deal.
Obviously, this list only includes fast food companies given that the previous sponsor comes from this industry. There are several food and beverage companies that have relevant products to promote as well as the financial capacity to sponsor the Olympic Games for several years.
However, as far as fast food companies are concerned these are most qualified to take on the role as the games’ premiere food sponsor. For now at least, the IOC won’t have to worry about what to serve their athletes.
Despite their agreement having immediate effect, the former sponsor will still provide its service to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as a domestic sponsor. Whether a gesture of appreciation for their decades-long partnership or a sign of future deals, athletes can still treat themselves to a Happy Meal whether they win a medal or not.
[Featured Image by Charlie Riedel/AP Images]