Why McDonald's Is Not Loving the Toronto Raptors' Season

Sometimes a fast food chain promotion with a sports franchise is not too crazy, like a free taco when a baseball player steals a base or a donation every time a football player scores a touchdown. But the deal McDonald's has tied to the Toronto Raptors has gone beyond any of them, costing the restaurant millions of dollars of french fries.

McDonald's locations in Ontario gave orders of medium french fries to customers free when the Raptors hit 12 three-pointers in a game. Unfortunately for the company, the Raptors have been so good this year that McDonald's has given out more than 2 million medium-size fries orders, worth $5.8 million, reports The Financial Post. That's almost three times as many orders the company projected for its Ontario restaurants during the promotion.

Chuck Coolen, head of marketing for McDonald’s in Eastern Canada, told the Financial Post the deal was reached just 18 days before the Raptors traded Demar DeRozan for star Kawhi Leonard last summer. Danny Green, a proficient three-point shooter, was also acquired in the trade.

McDonald's considered how the Raptors did last season. Without Leonard and Green, they averaged 11.8 threes a game, and thought the Raptors would hit the 12 three-pointers mark at least half of the 82 regular-season games. However, the Raptors not only hit the mark 44 times this season, but they already reached it 10 times during the postseason run.

After Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, the Raptors hit 13 three-pointers, McDonald's said it gave away a record 80,000 free medium fries orders.

Coolen said "of course" there was some concern among executives once the passed their predictions. The biggest concern was the franchisees' ability to keep up with the orders. One franchise owner, Mike Forman, said he had to bring in extra fry cooks to his four locations in Whitby for the free fry days.

“The managers will prep for it: ‘OK, it’s a free fry day. Let’s go.’” Forman told the Post. “In some situations, it is quite nuts.”

McDonald's would not comment on the extra cost franchisees take on because of the promotion, but Forman said the fact it brings in more customers helps out. After all, the only way to get the promotion is through the McDonald's app and once people have that on their phones, they might be likely to use it more often.

"We believe it will pay off in the future," Forman said.

Forman said he was part of a meeting with other franchisees, who talked about stopping the promotion before the playoffs began. Ultimately though, no one wanted to stop.

“Do we want to stop now?” Forman said. “No, we don’t want to stop now. This is good.”


The Raptors are now one game away from winning their first NBA championship. They have a 3-1 lead over the Warriors, with Game 5 scheduled for Monday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

Photo credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images