McDonald’s Corp. spends upwards of $50 million every four years to maintain its membership in the exclusive The Olympic Program (TOP), the top tier of sponsors for the Olympic Games. That’s a significant investment, but being the Official Restaurant of the Games yields enough return that the company recently extended its membership for another eight years (encompassing the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia; the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro; the 2018 Games in Pyeonchang, South Korea; and the 2020 Games at a yet-to-be-decided site).
At the London Games—held from July 27 to Aug. 12—McDonald’s is creating four restaurants. One will be 9,843 square feet, making it the largest in the system. That fact is so amazing that the mainstream press all reported it last July when McDonald’s announced it, and now it is being widely reported once again.
But what will be served at the Olympics in London or here during the games? Last July, McDonald’s Executive Chef Dan Coudreaut promised “the broadest menu every offered” in London, but the chain has provided no menu details since then.
There may be hints, however, in the Olympics-themed menu that McDonald’s has planned for Australia. There, special items will each be named for past Olympic host city. According to sources, the 2012 Olympic menu down under includes three LTOs that will be offered beginning May 16 until Aug. 14:
The Sydney Stack Burger: a burger the way Australian consumers like it, with a slice of beet plus lettuce tomato and pineapple (rival Hungry Jack’s last week added a beet-topped Aussie XT in response to complaints when it dropped the Aussie Whopper);
The Barcelona Omelette;
The Paris Chocolate Delight.
The Atlanta Pork McRib, the iconic sandwich Australians have been asking for, will be offered only from May 23 to June 5.
London Fish & Fries don’t join the menu until June 13 (for a two-week run), while Beijing Chicken will be offered for two weeks beginning July 4.
◙ Burger King, meanwhile, has its own “menu nationalism” going. In Canada, the chain has added a Maple BBQ Whopper (at left) and companion chicken version. It’s topped with hardwood-smoked bacon, Canadian Cheddar cheese and a “Gourmet Maple BBQ sauce.” I think “gourmet” has even less credibility than the overworked “artisan,” but there it is. These same condiments are on the crispy chicken patty.
◙ Let’s jump back to McDonald’s and back to Asia for one of the most unusual and oddly global burgers I’ve seen. In Hong Kong, McDonald’s is offering a “Special” version (at right) of its McSpicy Chicken sandwich that has Oktoberfest overtones.
Here’s the build: sauerkraut-like pickled cabbage is topped with a German sausage patty and a crispy McSpicy Chicken patty on a long rye bun. Can’t picture it? Watch the TV commercial here.
Sound like a scene from “American Graffiti”? No, this is a new TV commercial (at left) for McDonald’s breaking this week in Austria. The ad promotes the very upscale “M” burger that’s back on the menu there. Take a look. The spot, from agency Heye, closes with “As always. Since 1977,” a reference to the year McDonald’s opened in Austria.