On March 25, McDonald’s Corp. will debut a new brand spot starring LA Lakers All-Star Kobe Bryant during the highly watched Academy Awards broadcast on ABC-TV.

”The Academy Awards is one of the country’s most watched programs and we believe Kobe delivers an Oscar-winning performance worthy of this special debut,” said R.J. Milano, vice president, McDonald’s U.S. Marketing.

The spot, titled ”Let’s Play,” features a summer camp youth basketball team preparing for the championship game when they learn one of their star teammates can’t play. Overhearing their conversation, Kobe Bryant offers to help out. The skeptical kids agree to let him play, warning him ”not to blow it.” After all, the winning team gets to go to McDonald’s.

”This McDonald’s spot is very close to the heart of who I am, especially with respect to children,” said Kobe Bryant. ”I loved working with the kids, especially since I can remember being in similar situations when I was beginning to play basketball. And, I’m really thrilled this spot will be watched by millions during the Academy Awards. Hopefully it will put a smile on everyone’s face.”

McDonald’s recently announced a long-term partnership with Kobe Bryant. His first project involved supporting the national launch of the restaurant’s new lettuce and tomato sandwich – the Big N’ Tasty. Bryant starred in two spots which began running in mid-February as part of McDonald’s ”Next Big Thing” campaign.

In addition to the Kobe Bryant spot, McDonald’s will run two other spots during the Academy Awards broadcast. “Who’s Crying Now?” is also a debut spot featuring a Mom taking her daughter to her first day of school, and captures the emotions associated with this life event. “Bench,” an adult-targeted Happy Meal spot which debuted in late February emphasizes the emotional rewards of spending time with your kids at McDonald’s.

”Let’s Play” and ”Who’s Crying Now?” were produced by DDB Chicago and ”Bench” was produced by Leo Burnett. All three are 30-second spots.

McDonald’s is the world’s largest global foodservice retailer, with more than 28,000 restaurants serving nearly 45 million people each day in 120 countries. Approximately 80 percent of all McDonald’s restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent franchisees.