McDonald’s Enlists Yao Ming for Marketing

CHICAGO Fresh from parting ways with Kobe Bryant as an endorser, McDonald’s Corp. has enlisted another National Basketball Association player, Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, to appear in its advertising and other marketing initiatives.

“[Yao] personifies what our brand is all about,” said Larry Light, global chief marketing officer of the Oak Brook, Ill., company in a conference call with reporters. Qualities the brand and basketball star share are “youthful, dynamic, fun and caring,” Light said. Terms and duration of the deal were not disclosed.

Hiring the native of Shanghai, China, comes just two months after the company opted not to renew its contract with Bryant, who has been accused of sexual assault in Colorado. The Los Angeles Lakers star has denied those charges.

The company also has an arrangement with pop star Justin Timberlake, who is at the center of the controversy surrounding the Super Bowl’s halftime show. Light called Timberlake’s actions during the show, which included exposing Janet Jackson’s breast to the television audience, “inappropriate” and “inconsistent with our brand’s character.” He would not comment further on Timberlake’s status with McDonald’s, saying Thursday’s focus was on Yao.

“[Yao] behaves the way we would like our brand to be perceived,” Light said about the new endorser.

Yao Ming will appear in global advertising and marketing for McDonald’s, with an emphasis in areas such as physical fitness and activity. He will also be a part of the company’s global “I’m lovin’ it” campaign, Light said.