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McDonald's Ties Global Menus to World Cup

05/13/2014 02:10 pm ET | Updated Jul 13, 2014
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil doesn't begin until June 12 but McDonald's is wasting no time leveraging its $25 million-plus investment in a global sponsorship position. In two hotly contested markets it has created extensive special menus tied to participating nations and featuring burger buns designed to look like soccer balls.

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Next week (May 21) in Australia, the chain begins a World Cup promotion that will run through July 15, a McDonald's spokesperson confirmed to BurgerBusiness.com. Five new menu items linked to World Cup participants will be offered throughout the promotion: a Brazil Burger -- shown above -- (with a patty of beef, beans and chilis, coupled with tomato salsa); Spain Wrap (an 8-inch tortilla with two chorizo patties, scrambled egg and chunky tomato sauce); England Pie (filled with apple, berries and custard); Italy McFlurry (Oreos and coffee syrup); and Rio Frozen Sprite.

Additional short-term LTOs will be an Australia Burger (crispy chicken, chili-lime sauce, Buffalo sauce and lettuce) from May 21 to June 10. It will be followed with an Argentina Burger (two quarter-pound patties, salsa, onion, pickles and two slices of cheese) until July 1. Last up, from July 2-15, is a France Burger with a crispy chicken patty, mustard sauce and lettuce.

The World Cup promo is a crucial marketing window for McDonald's in Australia, one of four "priority markets" (along with the U.S., Germany and China) where the chain's sales have lagged over the past year. Hungry Jack's (the name under which Burger King operates in Australia) has been making inroads by lowering prices through discounts and coupons.

In World Cup host Brazil, McDonald's already has launched a "Favorites" menu promotion similar to the Australian program along with a giveaway of Cup-themed Coca-Cola glasses. McDonald's wants to leverage its sponsorship for all it can in Brazil not only because it is the host and because soccer is wildly popular in the country, but also because of Burger King's ties to Brazil. Recall that Brazilian-based 3G Capital acquired Burger King in 2010. Many of Burger King Worldwide's top executives -- including CFO Joshua Kobza; EVP-Chief Information, Performance & People Officer Heitor Gonçalves; North America President Alex Macedo; and others -- came to BK via Brazil.

The Brazilian World Cup menu includes seven LTO beef, pork or chicken burgers. All are on special buns, some of which look like soccer balls:

McBrasil: Two Angus patties, Emmenthal cheese, tomato, vinaigrette and mayo

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McAlemanha (McGermany): A McRib-like pork patty, lettuce, pepper cheese, pickles, red onion and German mustard sauce

McItalia: A meatloaf patty, pepperoni, grated cheese and tomato sauce with a special basil bun

McArgentina: Two Angus beef patties, Cheddar cheese, chimichurri sauce, bacon, lettuce, tomato

McEUA (USA): Two Angus patties, barbecue sauce, bacon, mixed greens, pickles, crispy onions

McEspanha (Spain): Crispy chicken, capicola, olive mayo, lettuce, tomato, pimento cheese

McFranza: Crispy chicken, Emmenthal cheese, tomato, mixed greens, grated cheese and herbed cream cheese.