By Shout-Africa News – JOHANNESBURG,– Imagine the thrill of standing beside a football star, feeling the roar of the crowds in front of millions of fans – all before turning the age of eleven. From June 11 through July 11, the McDonald’s Player Escort program will give 1,408 children, ages six to 10 from 47 countries, the chance to walk hand-in-hand onto the pitch with their football heroes at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa(TM). It is just one way McDonald’s supports children’s well-being as an Official Sponsor and the Official Restaurant of the FIFA World Cup, as announced during a media briefing today in Johannesburg.
McDonald’s executives, including Don Thompson, McDonald’s Corporation president and chief operating officer; Tim Fenton, president of McDonald’s Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa; and Greg Solomon, managing director of McDonald’s South Africa, kicked off the Company’s global sponsorship activities with special guest Chief Mandla Mandela and renowned footballers Julie Foudy, Sir Geoff Hurst, John “Shoes” Moshoeu and Patrick Vieira.
“Customers expect McDonald’s to sponsor the world’s biggest sporting event, and they want us to connect them to the excitement of this global competition,” said Thompson. “It’s a perfect fit for us because we are truly a local business located in every corner of the world.”
McDonald’s will celebrate the Tournament through a variety of programs that bring the passion of the sport to fans worldwide.
McDonald’s Player Escorts
The 2010 McDonald’s Player Escorts travelling to South Africa will experience four days filled with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, like meeting footballers and rock stars. During today’s event, McDonald’s Player Escorts accompanied the participating athletes, just one of many opportunities the children from 47 countries will experience throughout the Tournament. During their stay, the kids – selected in their home country through competitions and contests – will experience the thrill of the FIFA World Cup(TM), tour cultural sites in South Africa and play their own friendly football matches in several host cities.
In addition to walking hand-in-hand onto the pitch with top football players at the 64 matches, 12 McDonald’s Player Escorts will escort VIP presenters onstage and join performers for the finale at the 2010 FIFA World Cup(TM) Kick Off Concert in Johannesburg to celebrate the first FIFA World Cup(TM) on the African continent.
The McDonald’s Player Escort program began in 2002 at the FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan. Since then, the Company has provided more than 6,000 children with the unique experience of being a McDonald’s Player Escort.
Giving Back to the Community
As part of McDonald’s tradition of giving back to its communities, McDonald’s is supporting programs in South Africa that will create a long-lasting legacy well beyond the FIFA World Cup(TM).
Forty-four of the 1,275 South African McDonald’s Player Escorts were selected from the Mvezo region, Nelson Mandela’s birthplace. To address transportation in the region, McDonald’s is making a donation of $50,000 USD to help provide a new bus for the Mvezo community centre, a need the region’s leaders have labeled as a priority. The centre provides the families of Mvezo with a gathering place for cultural activities.
At today’s media briefing, Chief Mandla Mandela of the Mvezo Traditional Council thanked McDonald’s for the lasting contributions.
McDonald’s Coach the Coaches Program
The McDonald’s South Africa Coach the Coaches program focuses on developing children’s love for football through training coaches at the local level and providing football equipment. This curriculum is based on the success of McDonald’s U.K. Coach the Coaches program formed eight years ago.
Through a partnership with the South African Schools Football Association, directed by the assistant head coach of the South African national team, this grassroots initiative is expected to reach 3,000 South Africa schools in the next three years. It started at Rena le Nona (We are with you), an after school care center in Soweto, Johannesburg, which helps orphans and other children in need.
“From training more than 20,000 coaches to supporting local projects, the McDonald’s Community Football Program is a great testament to what McDonald’s and volunteers – many of them mums – can do by joining forces,” said Hurst. “Our U.K. team is proud to partner with people in South Africa to bring this program to their country.”
McDonald’s is also giving five children from Rena le Lona the opportunity to experience the England vs. USA match on June 12, together with six other Player Escorts traveling from the United Kingdom.
McDonald’s Activities Around the World
While 32 countries will vie for the FIFA World Cup(TM) title, passionate football fans from around the world can celebrate the Tournament through McDonald’s FIFA World Cup(TM) activities in more than 100 countries.
McDonald’s Ultimate FIFA World Cup Fan
Through the McDonald’s Ultimate FIFA World Cup(TM) Fan program, six winners and their guests will travel to South Africa to experience one of the semi-finals and the final match. For more information and to enter the contest, fans can visit www.mcdonaldsfan.com.
McDonald’s In-Restaurant Activities
McDonald’s restaurants worldwide are providing customers with special FIFA World Cup(TM)-themed menu items and promotions, including travel and match ticket giveaways to attend the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa(TM).
McDonald’s customers in the United States can “Taste the Glory” of the FIFA World Cup(TM) with peel-off game pieces available on Big Macs and Egg McMuffins. Game pieces found on these menu items will have instant prizes or a special code to play EA’s new 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa(TM) game online for a chance to win other great prizes such as EA’s new game, video game consoles, and tickets to the USA vs. Brazil game in New York this August.
McDonald’s customers in Europe are encouraged to “Feed the Passion” for the FIFA World Cup(TM) through a campaign featuring print, billboard and in-restaurant advertising. Latin American customers can purchase an extra value meal to earn game pieces and play “Palpitos del Mundial” (Heartbeat of FIFA World Cup(TM)) to win cash prizes and McDonald’s food items. In South Africa, through the purchase of any Big Mac, McChicken or Mega McMuffin product, 2,000 match tickets are being given away, along with other prizes. Football’s youngest fans throughout Asia, Middle East and Africa will enjoy eight FIFA World Cup(TM) -themed Happy Meal toys.
For more information on McDonald’s FIFA World Cup(TM) activities, including an overview of host country activation (McDonald’s Fan Dancers and McCafe) and digital programs (McDonald’s Ultimate FIFA World Cup(TM) Fan and McDonald’s FIFA World Cup(TM) Fantasy Football), please visit: ww.aboutmcdonalds.com/epk/2010FIFAWorldCup
McDonald’s FIFA World Cup(TM) History
McDonald’s has been a supporter of football at both the global and grassroots levels for more than 25 years. The Company has served as an Official Sponsor and the Official Restaurant of the FIFA World Cup(TM) since the United States Tournament in 1994, continuing through 1998 in France, 2002 in Korea and Japan, 2006 in Germany and now for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa(TM).
About McDonald’s South Africa
McDonald’s South Africa has 138 restaurants operating in nine provinces. McDonald’s is committed to success in South Africa’s markets, employing more than 7,000 South Africans, with 85 percent of food served at McDonald’s restaurants sourced locally. Please visit http://www.mcdonalds.co.za/.
McDonald’s is the leading global foodservice retailer with more than 32,000 local restaurants in more than 117 countries. More than 80 percent of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by franchisees.