McDonald's starts PR push for global kids fundraiser

CHICAGO: McDonald's has begun a major international media effort to publicize World Children's Day at McDonald's on November 20.

CHICAGO: McDonald's has begun a major international media effort to publicize World Children's Day at McDonald's on November 20.

The goal of the campaign is to raise millions of dollars for Ronald McDonald House Charities and other child-related causes around the globe.

The PR push marks the first time McDonald's has staged a worldwide fundraiser.

"We'll be working with PR people around the world," said Cathy Nemeth, senior director for worldwide communications with McDonald's.

Golin/Harris International is handling PR for the worldwide event, but McDonald's is also working with local agencies in various markets, Nemeth said. The food giant wants to generate attention in 120 countries, encouraging people to visit McDonald's restaurants on November 20 when restaurants will donate money to charities relating to children.

In addition to the Ronald McDonald House Charities, plans call for giving money to orphanages in Russia, Estonia, and Kuwait, to children's hospitals, and to children's health organizations among other causes.

"It's all about getting out to your local restaurant on that day," Nemeth said. "We'd like this to become an annual event, and a day the world sets aside. We are literally creating a day to remember children."

McDonald's and Golin began internal communication efforts for the campaign in April with announcements to McDonald's operators and owners.

CEO Jack Greenberg publicly announced plans for the fundraiser in July after meeting with the secretary general of the United Nations and the executive director of UNICEF. The date was selected to commemorate the anniversary of November 20, 1989, the day the UN held the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Nemeth explained.

McDonald's decided to have the fundraiser this year to commemorate what would have been the 100th birthday of founder Ray Kroc.

"His legacy was always that we must give back to the communities we serve," Nemeth explained. "This event will take social responsibility to a new level."

International PR events will begin at the Ronald McDonald House in Auckland, New Zealand, where balloons will be released at the start of the day and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark is scheduled to make an appearance.

A daylong concert is planned in Mexico City with 45 celebrities. A McDonald's in Moscow will host orphans. In Hong Kong, a local singing star will cook breakfast for area children.

The food giant has recruited 125 Olympic athletes to be spokespeople for the event, as well as Celine Dion and Enrique Iglesias, who have previously been involved in McDonald's fundraising efforts.

PR efforts in the US will center around a celebrity event at McDonald's Times Square restaurant on November 20, attended by Venus and Serena Williams, Carl Lewis, and other celebrities. McDonald's senior management team also plans to be at the Times Square location that day for a press conference.

Celebrities on hand will be working behind the counter for a time, providing photo opportunities for the media.

Celine Dion will appear at a Jupiter, FL McDonald's. In other locations, events such as children choir performances, broadcast media tours and local celebrity appearances are slated.

"Using someone else to tell your story is very important in this," said Nemeth. "It's a global public relations program that is community based."

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