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When promotions go wrong: How Raptors have cost McDonald's millions in fries

Success of Raptors has had unintended consequence for McDonald's in Ontario

(Getty Images)

As the Toronto Raptors try to dethrone the Golden State Warriors as champions in the NBA Finals, there’s another giant the Raptors are doing a good job of defeating: McDonald’s.

The Raptors have cost McDonald’s locations in Ontario millions of dollars in free giveaways this season because of their success, particularly in making 3-point shots, according to an article on financialpost.com.

So, how did McDonald’s in Ontario get into this pickle (pun intended)? 

It was the timing of the trade that brought star player Kawhi Leonard to the team.

Last summer, locations in Ontario announced they would give out free medium-sized orders of fries whenever the Raptors made 12 shots or more from 3-point range in a game.

But 18 days after the promotion was finalized, the Raptors made the trade for Leonard, who had requested to be dealt from San Antonio.

Chuck Coolen, the head of marketing for McDonald’s in Eastern Canada, found out about the trade and immediately posed a question for someone at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., the parent company of the Raptors, according to the article.

“Who is this guy?” Coolen asked. “What does it mean?”

As it turns out, it has meant lots of free french fries for Canadian customers.

Thanks to the presence of Leonard and sharpshooter Danny Green, who was also acquired in the trade and made a career-high 198 shots from 3-point range during the regular season, the Raptors have made 12 or more 3-pointers in a game 54 times this season -- between the regular season and playoffs. 

Locations in Ontario projected they would originally give out 700,000 free orders of fries, but instead, they've given out more than 2 million of them.

With the average menu price $2.89, that has cost locations $5.8 million in fries. 

Coolen said the main concern was about the ability of franchises to handle the demand, not the number or cost of the fries.

Some franchises have made sure to have an extra fry cook staffed for those days after the Raptors kick in the promotion by making 12 shots from 3-point range.

So, while the Raptors may be on the verge of an NBA title, there should be no debate about who the MVP should be once the playoffs end: It’s the fry cooks at McDonald’s locations in Ontario, for sure.


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