'Brand ambassadors' to represent McDonald's at Olympics

Oak Brook, IL: McDonald's will be sending employees from 35 countries to work at the company's Olympic restaurants in Athens and act as "brand ambassadors."

Oak Brook, IL: McDonald's will be sending employees from 35 countries to work at the company's Olympic restaurants in Athens and act as "brand ambassadors."

Members of the 2004 McDonald's Olympic Champion Crew Team were chosen from a pool of 1.5 million employees because they exhibited good service traits.

Cathy Nemeth, senior director of worldwide communications for McDonald's, said the program puts the company's "best brand face forward" and is a great tool for employee recruitment and retention.

"These 400-plus employees become brand ambassadors," Nemeth said.

The McDonald's team will serve food at three locations: in the main press center, the Athens Olympic Sports Complex, and the Olympic Village.

The locations give the restaurant the opportunity to have its Olympic workers interact with the media.

"It's great to be able to see the athletes, but it's also wonderful to meet and greet the media," Nemeth said. "A Sydney Morning Herald reporter can be served by a worker from Australia."

McDonald's first foray into Olympics service occurred when the company airlifted hamburgers to US athletes during the 1968 Games in France.

This year's Games will be the fourth at which McDonald's will be a top sponsor and the fifth at which it will be the official restaurant.

McDonald's displays the Olympic rings on business cards and at the restaurants to further promote its connection with the Games.

"The athletes expect us to be there," Nemeth said. "They see McDonald's and it reminds them of home."

Burson-Marsteller, the company's global agency, will send three staffers to the Games to support McDonald's, according to Chicago-based Burson manager Adam Scholder.

"Burson is a full partner in this effort, and they're with us every step of the way," Nemeth said, adding that the agency has traveled with the company to Greece leading up to the games.

Celebrity coaches and executives from McDonald's and the International Olympic Committee will be at the main press center to cheer the employees on at the opening ceremony day event on August 13.

The employees will attend Olympic events, and participate in recreational, sightseeing, and cultural activities, as well as a skills demonstration of building the fastest Big Mac.

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