Tuesday
Feb022010

McDonald's Keeps Dwight Howard On The Marketing Menu

Howard to James: "I'll play you for your Big Mac."LeBron James is challenged for his Big Mac and fries by Dwight Howard (opposite) in MacDonald's new spot.February 2, 2010: Superman will continue to fly into McDonald's, thanks to a multi-year renewal of a deal between NBA all-star center Dwight Howard and the fast-feeder. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Howard, whose prowess above the rim with the Orlando Magic and during the Slam Dunk contest at the NBA's All-Star Games in 2008 and 2009 earned him the Man of Steel nickname, initially signed with McDonald's in 2008. He and fellow NBA all-star LeBron James are scheduled to appear in a McDonald's commercial, "Check This," that will break during Super Bowl XLIV on CBS.

In addition to multi-media marketing, Howard's agreement includes support of several McDonald's programs, promotions and other initiatives in coming months. Among them, Howard will support McDonald's sponsorship of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and the 2010 McDonald's All American High School Basketball Games in Columbus, Ohio, benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio.

Howard was a member of the U.S. gold medal men's basketball team at the 2008 Olympics; in 2004, he earned McDonald's All American Game co-MVP and Player-of-the-Year honors. He has served on the McDonald's All American Advisory Council since 2008.

The McDonald's spot with James is a remake of a classic McDonald's commercial from 1993, "Showdown," in which NBA legends Larry Bird and Magic Johnson played an über game of H*O*R*S*E for a Big Mac.  McDonald's has posted a snippet of the ad on YouTube, showing James arriving at a basketball court with a Big Mac and fries and Howard challenging him for the meal, which mimics the original spot with Jordan and Bird. Bird also will appear in the new spot. Lead agency is Leo Burnett, Chicago.

Howard's other marketing partners include adidas, AirTran, EA Sports, Coca-Cola-owned Glaceau Vitaminwater and T-Mobile. He is handled by Goodwin Sports Management, Seattle.

"Dwight has been a champion for his team, his community and McDonald's since we entered into a relationship with him in 2008," Neil Golden, CMO for McDonald's USA, said in a statement. "We are excited to bring Dwight and LeBron – two of the biggest names in basketball today – together for the remake of this iconic commercial, the first of many opportunities to come."

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