McDonald's: Diary of a Games Maker

A McDonald's marketer says his role as a London 2012 volunteer taught him valuable work lessons

McDonald's marketer Ben Sherburn swapped head office for the Olympics and Paralympics, taking part in London 2012 as a Games Maker. Here, he talks about how he used his marketing skills, and the lasting effect the Games will have on his career.

Being a Games Maker was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I was so proud to be a part of it and found it inspiring both as a marketer and on a personal level. There was a lot of training involved ahead of the Games, but I always had advance warning of when I would be required, so this allowed me to work around my day job.

McDonald's Alistair Macrow on the Games' customer service legacy

Three months before the Games, we had general training sessions at Wembley for all of the Games Makers, followed by role-specific training at LOCOG, where my job as flag protocol team leader was explained.

No room for errors

It can be easy to make a mistake, and the level of diligence required came into focus with the issue at the opening women's football game involving the North Korean flag. Although that incident was not the flag team's fault, it did mean we were all on our toes, and we all knew we had to be as precise and correct as we could be. As with marketing, one small error or issue can snowball and have a major effect. Knowing this really helped me to focus on the details and their importance.

As a marketer, I'm used to life being hectic. Working toward the start of the Games was quite a similar process to that part of the job when you're leading into the launch of a campaign or one key moment. My planning skills were invaluable when it came to managing my workload. I was able to make sure that my team at McDonald's was well prepared ahead of my time at the Games, and the scheduling allowed me to shift any meetings or deadlines to suit the teams' needs. I often worked around my volunteering, so I would pop into the office during the morning and head off later in the day to start my Games Maker shift.

My Games legacy

My experience has not only tested my marketing skills, but also allowed me to focus on areas that are so integral to what we do at McDonald's. Turning things around as quickly as possible, changing behaviour to adapt to fresh environments and challenges, and quickly resolving issues on a large scale are things that will really help me in my career.

Hearing athletes, commentators and the closing ceremony speakers all recognising the work we did on a world stage showed me how my actions, and those of the other Games Makers, affected the country and the success of London 2012.

It gave me a real understanding of how my contribution can add to something that is seen by millions of people and the impact it can have on a nation - that is something I'd like to carry with me in my marketing role at McDonald's and beyond.

BRAND VIEW: Alistair Macrow

Vice-president marketing, McDonald's UK

Our sponsorship of London 2012 and involvement in helping create the selection and training programme for the 70,000 Games Makers allowed us to tell people about the great stories behind McDonald's. We ran a £10m responsive ad campaign, 'We all make the Games', which evolved over the summer to celebrate all those people who helped make the Olympics and Paralympics spectacular.

Providing good customer service to millions of people each day is core for our business and we're proud of the role we played in making sure volunteers were ready.

It will help to create a legacy of both exceptional customer service for the hospitality sector, and volunteering in Britain, for years to come. Beyond the Olympics, we will look for ways to let people get under the surface of our business. Our 'A-Z' campaign, which will continue until the end of the year at least, does that by sharing facts about every aspect of McDonald's.

Surprising stories like these, and our part in training the Games Makers, help to change the way people think about McDonald's. That's an exciting prospect for a customer-led business like ours.


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