June 28th, 2012
Five Questions with McDonald's Global Brand Officer Kevin Newell
By Maureen Morrison
In one month, the London Olympics will be underway, and once again, McDonald’s is a major sponsor for the games. The world’s largest chain by sales has been the official restaurant sponsor of the Olympics since 1996 and has renewed that sponsorship through the 2020 Olympics.
At the Olympic village this year, McDonald’s will have its largest restaurant location ever. The chain will also be running advertising by DDB. In one spot, LeBron James and Luol Deng go one-on-one for fries and a Big Mac. In another, kids compete against each other for various McDonald’s products.
The kids in that DDB ad hint at one of the chain’s major initiatives: children’s exercise, nutrition and well-being. For the Olympics, McDonald’s is tying its efforts to a global kids’ exercise initiative called Champions of Play. As part of the program, which will be executed at the global, regional and local levels, kids will be encouraged to engage in physical activity. Fliers in millions of Happy Meals will prompt them to earn activity points through various forms of exercise and then track the points online.
At the front of the Olympics branding is Kevin Newell, who became the chain’s global brand officer in early 2011. Prior to that, he served as U.S. senior and restaurant support officer for the U.S. West division. Ad Age caught up with Mr. Newell, who was also an Olympic trials runner in the 200-meter race in 1980, to talk about the Olympics messaging and how it ties to McDonald’s overall brand strategy.