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Marketer: McDonald's Corp.

Agency: Leo Burnett, Shanghai

McDonald's picks a Chinese proverb to link Yao Ming with the Big Mac in his homeland

[Hong Kong] Yao Ming is starring in his first McDonald's Corp. TV ad in his native China since he became the fast-food giant's global brand spokesman earlier this year.

Mr. Yao appears in two Big Mac spots, a brand ad and a game promotion, running in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Created by Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett, Shanghai, they draw a parallel between Yao Ming, a Chinese national hero who has become a sports superstar in the U.S. playing for the Houston Rockets, and the Big Mac, McDonald's own hero product since the burger's launch in 1968.

The brand ad, shot in Houston and Shanghai and titled "Big Taste of The Big Mac," is a cheerful interpretation of a Chinese proverb, "Heroes cherish heroes," explained Leo Burnett's Jesse Lin, Hong Kong-based group brand director for China.

The commercial depicts Mr. Yao as a young boy in gym class who always had basketball on his mind, regardless of what sport the class was playing. The other kids think he acts strangely when he does a high jump instead of the instructed long jump, for example, so the coach takes the class to McDonald's to break the tension. At the end of the spot, Mr. Yao appears as an adult basketball player.

"Yao's iconic status and genuine, light-hearted and passionate personality make him the perfect candidate to interpret the larger-than-life" attitude of the Big Mac," added Mr. Lin. The brand ad may be adapted for other markets.