Fast Food Giant and Discovery Networks Sign Deal

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NEW YORK ( -- McDonald's Corp. has signed a deal with Discovery Networks' Trading Spaces: Family to have the redecorating reality show spruce up a Ronald McDonald House, according to the network.

The Ronald McDonald House is a facility that offers families of critically ill children a place to stay near major hospitals.

Larger relationship
Omnicom Group's OMD, McDonald's media shop, engineered the deal. The project signals the beginning of a larger multiplatform relationship between the burger franchise and the network that will roll out this year, and will emphasize not only McDonald's charitable good works but also its new positioning as a health-conscious food service.

"This is going to be the start of something a lot bigger," said Amy Baker, vice president of Discovery Solutions, who said that until now McDonald's has had only a small advertising presence on Discovery Networks. She characterized the relationship between the companies as something beyond marketing.

Global approach
"This is all about two companies getting together on the same page, with the same goals and values," Ms. Baker said. "Our idea is to make this a global approach. Stay tuned, this is just the tip of the iceberg."

Designer Doug Wilson will be featured in eight vignettes to air throughout the TLC show's next season.

The vignettes, produced by Discovery, will run during episodes of Trading Spaces: Family starting in September. The pieces will chronicle Mr. Wilson's rehab of a community room at a Ronald McDonald House, which has not been identified yet. There are 235 Ronald McDonald Houses around the world, providing shelter for more than 6,000 families of critically ill children who are being treated at area hospitals. The patients and McDonald's employees will also participate in the makeover.

Promotional spots
The deal also includes a series of 30-second promotional teaser spots that will appear on TLC, a public service announcement starring Mr. Wilson touting the good works of the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Mr. Wilson's involvement is professional and personal: One of his nephews had stayed at a Ronald McDonald House while undergoing cancer treatment. The 4-year-old boy died four months ago, while the two companies were in the middle of planning.

"Doug Wilson is very passionate about this project, he's very committed to helping spread the word," Ms. Baker said.

An online component is also part of the plan. A McDonald's Web site wll feature a Webcam to monitor the progress of the makeover. The project is expected to take months to complete, unlike the usual time frame on the show, in which makeovers take place in 48 hours.

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