McDonald's is the world's largest restaurant chain, and in its efforts to conquer China have come up with some unique promotions. They're not doing TV spots and billboards here. McDonald's is teaming up with the International Olympic Committee and the government-run China Central Television marries its desire to expand in the country with its already strong Olympics connection.
"McDonald's Champion Kids" begins airing regularly in October, and hopes to piggyback on the mounting local interest in the 2008 games. The prize? 300 children will get to attend the Olympic games next year.
Children across China will take exams and participate in an art and essay competition in which they try to impress judges by explaining what the Beijing Olympics theme, "One World, One Dream," means to them. Chinese students, along with children from the rest of the world, will then compete in a series of televised contests, from quiz shows to athletic competitions, to determine the winners.Reality Television is huge in China, with American Idol type shows "Super Girl" and "My Hero" averaging millions of viewers. Nike has also jumped into the reality mix by sponsoring a show called "Soccer Prince," where athletes compete to gain fame and notoriety. Yet McDonald's is not the first to have an Olympics themed reality show.
Last year, another Olympics-themed show called the "China Olympic Coxswain Competition" pitted 80 contestants against each other for two spots on China's Olympics rowing teams.
McDonald's is going all out in this promotion, which is brilliant marketing on their part. They've seamlessly enmeshed their product into the Chinese landscape, but also embedded their brand into the country's growing Olympic excitement. McDonald's has the chance to win the Chinese gold, and they know it.
The contest is an "opportunity to draw a connection with our customers that is more relevant than just a regular television commercial," said Mary Dillon, chief marketing officer of the Oak Brook, Ill., company. Ms. Dillon says the TV series and other programs are the company's "biggest ever" Olympics-related marketing effort and a "tremendous opportunity for our business."McDonald's is on to something here. Now it's just a matter of whether people will watch.