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Volume 10 No. 23


The Sochi Games jump-started McDonald's business in southern Russia, leading to the construction of five restaurants in the Sochi region and allowing it to add smoothies, parfaits and wraps to its menu.McDonald's Russia CEO Khamzat Khasbulatov said, "Because of the Olympics, we built them. They've been so popular and packed." McDonald's Head of Global Alliances John Lewicki added, "We've been in Russia for 24 years, but it's still a great growth market for us. (The Olympics) helped our business tremendously. The support of the organizing committee and the government, the way it's set up, will help our business a lot more. It's a great generator for us." McDonald's built two restaurants in the Olympic Park, one for athletes and one for journalists. It is serving 6,000 customers a day at those two locations. Because it was building those restaurants as part of its sponsorship commitment, McDonald's expanded its supply chain in Russia to offer menu items it serves in other parts of the world. It added smoothies, parfaits and grilled chicken wraps to the menu. The parfaits had to pass Russian regulations for yogurt and be made from local products. The company set up the supply chain for those items, secured government approval and began serving them last October. Khasbulatov said the new items will be available at McDonald's locations around the country in the future, which will help boost national sales as well as choices for customersKhasbulatov said,  "Providing variety is still one of our biggest business drivers." The U.K. and Russia are McDonald's two biggest European markets. The company has 37 restaurants in Russia, and those restaurants rank among the top 100 in global sales for the company. It plans to open more than 45 restaurants in Russia annually in the coming years. Lewicki: "We have ambitious growth plans over the next four years. The World Cup is coming here (in 2018) and that will help as well. (Sports) gives us a great opportunity to talk to consumers and explain our brand in a way that here, where Russian citizens are very supportive of the Olympics and the World Cup, offers a great opportunity to develop our business." Khasbulatov and Lewicki were speaking at a playground McDonald's built in Adler near one of its new restaurants. The playground is one of the legacies the company has been leaving in Olympic cities ever since the Vancouver Games. It's become the physical embodiment of the company's effort to promote and encourage kids to be active. In addition to that, McDonald's is running its "Champions of Play" program at the Sochi Games. It will bring 300 kids selected by schools across Russia to the Olympics. It also will host the winner of a youth hockey tournament it sponsored, and it is in the process of arranging a time for the kids to skate and play on one of the two hockey rinks built for the Olympics. The company first began providing behind-the-scenes access to children it brought to the London Games. Those kids were able to go to the archery venue at Lord's Cricket Ground and meet Olympic archers.Lewicki:  "We're working with the IOC to continue doing that."

The U.S. Olympic Committee on Wednesday announced its first sponsorship in the mattress category with Airweave, a Japanese company that makes bedding toppers. Terms of the deal were not available, but Airweave is considered an official sponsor, and those deals are usually valued in the mid-six figures annually. Under the terms of the deal, Airweave is providing mattress toppers to Team USA athletes in Sochi and also will provide them in Rio in '16.USOC Chief Marketer Lisa Baird said, "Their business is not established in the U.S., but they want to aggressively grow the business and the brand. In addition to financial benefits, this is a sponsorship that offers great benefits to our athletes. They¹re going to really help us with some (value in kind)." Airweave CEO Motokuni Takaoka appeared at USA House in Sochi to announce the sponsorship Wednesday. The company also has sponsorships with several other national Olympic committees, including Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland and Japan. To assist in marketing its sponsorship of Team USA, Airweave signed endorsement deals with figure skater Gracie Gold and ice dancer Charlie White. The company estimates that it is providing 1,000 athletes in Sochi with mattress toppers during the Sochi Games. Airweave launched in the U.S. last month. It claims that the product's breathability helps moisture generated by the body during sleep escape. USOC Senior Dir of Business Michael O'Conor negotiated the deal. Baird said that the USOC currently is focused on servicing its existing partners and renewing them for the 2018 and 2020 Olympics. Baird: "A lot of that is going to rest on how well we fulfill their expectations. That's where I have our team focused."

The IOC "is investigating claims by Australian speed skater Daniel Greig that there was behind-the-scenes betting on the 500m speedskating event," according to Jacquelin Magnay of THE AUSTRALIAN. Greig told reporters after finishing the 1000m final that unnamed Dutch coaches "had bet on him as an outside medal chance for the 500m event." He said, “Dutch coaches were watching me in training and bet money on me as an outsider to win a medal. Obviously they lost it." The IOC said that "the company contracted to monitor betting on the Games had found no suspicious betting patterns in relation to the event." However, IOC officials said they were "seeking clarification from The Netherlands National Olympic committee about any involvement of team officials" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/12).

Fans in Sochi "are having a hard time getting tickets for Olympic events due to inefficient ticket sales operations, while many seats remain empty of filled with volunteers." Only "a handful of ticket sales offices, one of which is in Moscow and a few more in Sochi, have been opened" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 2/12). ... A bobsleigh "smashed into a course worker at the Olympic Games Sanki sliding centre on Thursday leaving the man reportedly with both legs broken." The incident "occurred at the start of the training for the two-man bobsleigh competition when the forerunner bob, which is used to clear and test the track at the beginning of the day's schedule, hit an ice maker" (AFP, 2/14).