NFL, Fans Lovin' It: McDonald's Fills QSR Category Unserved Since 2007

By Barry Janoff

November 30, 2012: The NFL has been without an official partner in the quick-serve restaurant category for five years. But a new deal with McDonald's now fills the void left vacant when the league and Burger King parted ways after the 2007 season.

McDonald's has signed a multi-year alliance to become the "official restaurant partner" of the NFL, with activation to begin in December with an in-store and online promotion tied to the 2013 Pro Bowl.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

McDonald's said it has worked with local NFL teams for decades. The fast-feeder was the official title sponsor of the 2010 Pro Bowl in Miami and the game's MVP award (won by Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall).

Under terms of the deal, McDonald's becomes the presenting sponsor of the 2013 Pro Bowl and Pro Bowl ballot. McDonald's is also able to feature the NFL shield and collective use of all 32 team logos in marketing and advertising.

The 2013 Pro Bowl will be played on Jan. 27, 2013 and air on NBC from Honolulu's Aloha Stadium. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had been debating whether or not to cancel the Pro Bowl following a public and media outcry over the low quality of play in the 2012 Pro Bowl. Players lobbied the league to keep the game and vowed to improve the quality of play.

The 2013 game will be played a week before Super Bowl XLVII, Feb. 3, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. McDonald's has appeared during previous Super Bowl broadcasts, most recently with a spot featuring LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Larry Bird. Industry analysts speculated that the deal would encourage McDonald's return to the big game.

The Chicken McNugget Pro Bowl Promotion runs from Dec. 4-18 (at participating McDonald's), offering consumers who purchase a 20-piece Chicken McNuggets the opportunity to win a trip to the game in Hawaii. The promotion is also being supported via McDonald's Twitter destination.

McDonald's said that details would be available at an as yet to be activated Web site beginning Dec. 4.

“McDonald’s customers and NFL fans share a passion for fun, exciting experiences. This sponsorship brings our customers one step closer to NFL action.”

“McDonald’s has worked with local NFL teams for decades, and today we are proud to be the official restaurant sponsor,” Neil Golden, svp and CMO for McDonald’s USA., said in a statement “McDonald’s customers and NFL fans share a passion for fun, exciting experiences. This sponsorship and promotion brings our customers one step closer to NFL action.”

The alliance coincides with Jeff Stratton, currently global chief restaurant officer, succeeding Jan Fields as president of McDonald's USA. Earlier this month, McDonald's reported that sales fell in October, the first monthly decline in nine years among locations open more than 13 months.

McDonald's is also a global partner of the U.S. Olympic and International Olympic Committees.

McDonald's has ranked as the favorite QSR among NFL fans, according to a studies conducted by Scarborough Research, with upward of 50% of those surveyed listing the fast-feeder as their favorite among QSRs.

According to Brian Rolapp, COO for NFL Media, “We are pleased to welcome McDonald’s to our family of NFL sponsors. We are excited to be working with McDonald’s to bring our fans closer to the game with unique experiences during the Pro Bowl and all season long.”

The Pro Bowl was played in Hawaii from 1980-2009 a week after the Super Bowl. The league moved the game in 2010 to the week before the Super Bowl to Miami's Sun Life Stadium, the site of Super Bowl XLIV. The Pro Bowl moved back to Hawaii in 2011 but remained a week prior to the Super Bowl.

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