Ronald McDonald is ditching Mickey Mouse for Shrek. McDonald’s has signed a two-year, non-exclusive deal to promote DreamWorks Animation SKG films beginning with the release of Shrek 3 in 2007.
McDonald’s previously said it wanted to try a new approach to marketing partnerships when its exclusive 10-year deal with The Walt Disney Co expired next year.
“Ten years is a very long time,” said Larry Light, global chief marketing officer at McDonald’s.
“The world changes more than once in 10 years. I don’t anticipate that we’ll be making 10-year deals in the future with anybody.”
Financial terms of the new agreement were not released. It also ends DreamWorks’ promotional arrangement with Burger King.
The relationship between McDonald’s and Disney has been marked by several notable successes, including 101 Dalmatians and Finding Nemo. But there were also disappointments tied to Disney flops such as Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet.
The results were inconsistent in part because promotions must be planned at least a year in advance – long before it’s known whether a film will succeed or fail.
The new agreement will include promoting DreamWorks films with toys in Happy Meals. But it will go beyond typical marketing efforts to include pairing Ronald McDonald with Shrek and other DreamWorks characters in ads.
It will be the first time McDonald’s iconic “chief happiness officer” has shared the spotlight with non-McDonald’s characters.
McDonald’s said it was talking to Disney and other firms about other possible marketing relationships but did not say if it expects to promote Disney films after next year.
DreamWorks chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg said he was not worried about McDonald’s possibly working with one of his competitors.