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LeBron James Partnership A Marketing Slam-Dunk For McDonald's

LeBron James in new McDonald's TV spot, which also stars Dwight Howard.January 28, 2010: NBA star LeBron James is putting the "gold" into McDonald's golden arches. The fast-feeder has unveiled a multi-year deal with James, which will include TV, print, Internet and POP activation, as well as involvement with Ronald McDonald House Charities. Financial details were not released.

McDonald's confirmed that James will star alongside Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic in a TV spot to air during Super Bowl XLIV that will be a remake of the classic "Showdown" spot from 1993 starring Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. In the original, the two basketball Hall of Famers played a game of extreme H*O*R*S*E for a Big Mac. The remake is expected to feature more above-the-rim action from two of the NBA's most dynamic slam-dunkers. Lead agency for the original and remake is Leo Burnett, Chicago.

The spot was filmed in early January at Conseco Field House in Indianapolis and is said to have a humorous twist ending when Bird makes an appearance and walks off with the McDonald's meal as James and Howard continue to battle.

James, who is handled by LRMR Marketing, Cleveland, a management company he formed with three of his friends, also has marketing deals with Nike, State Farm and Coca-Cola, for whom he has done commercials for Sprite and Glaceau VitaminWater. Analysts put his annual income from endorsements at $30 million+, which leads all NBA players. A new Power 100 report from Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranked him as the second most powerful athlete, behind Tiger Woods, which takes into account his production on the court and his influence among consumers.

"LeBron is an all-star, both on the court and in the community," said Neil Golden, McDonald's USA chief marketing officer. "We're looking forward to working with LeBron to showcase our brand in surprising ways while also raising awareness of and support for Ronald McDonald House Charities."  

Maverick Carter, CEO of LRMR, called the deal a "perfect fit. LeBron looks to partner with leading companies like McDonald's and we are thrilled to be associated with one of the most recognized and renowned brands, as well as with the many opportunities to work together in the coming months."

In March, James will support the 2010 McDonald's All American High School Basketball Games in Columbus, Ohio. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. In 2003, James earned McDonald's All American Game MVP and Player-of-the-Year honors.

"McDonald's and I make a great team,"  James, now in his seventh season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, said in a statement. "We share many of the same core values, including a commitment to excellence and giving back to the community.  I am also excited about the opportunity to work with Ronald McDonald House Charities, which helps improve the lives of so many children and their families around the world."

Among other athletes who have had marketing deals with McDonald's are Venus and Serena Williams, Kobe Bryant and Yao Ming.

McDonald's Casts LeBron James, Dwight Howard In Super Bowl Remake Of Jordan-Bird Spot

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