McDonald's aims upmarket with ITV rugby sponsorship

McDonald's has signed up to sponsor ITV's coverage of the NatWest Six Nations rugby union tournament, marking the brand's biggest move into the sport to date.

The fast food giant is known for its investments in football sponsorships, at a grassroots level with The Football Association and as a long-term partner of the Fifa World Cup.

However, McDonald’s has signalled a change in its approach at a global level. Last summer it ended its 41-year partnership with the Olympic Games, and it was widely reported that the company reviewed its deal with Fifa ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia before opting to go ahead. 

Now the brand has decided to use the upcoming Six Nations – which famously attracts a more affluent audience – to promote its "gourmet" Signature Collection range, including The Classic, The BBQ and The Spicy burgers.

The deal, brokered by ITV and McDonald’s media agency OMD UK, starts on 4 February and includes sponsorship of the broadcaster’s live coverage of England and Ireland’s home games, as well as highlights shows and online content on ITV Hub.

"A Touch of Class" idents, created by Leo Burnett, continue the brand’s humorous creative approach, introducing McDonald’s "unexpected" new range to rugby players in a range of scenarios.

The campaign will be supported by TV, press, out of home, cinema and digital ads, including a brand-first move to run ads in premium men’s monthly print titles such as GQ.

Marco Ruggeri, marketing manager at McDonald’s, said: "The Signature Collection is one of our biggest permanent menu innovations in 44 years and has been incredibly well received during the trial stages.

"Now the range is available in over 1,000 stores, the partnership provides us with a great opportunity to signpost our target audience to The Signature Collection. We look forward to working with ITV over the course of the tournament."