Girls Aloud and Sugababes to promote Happy Meals

LONDON - McDonald's has signed up Girls Aloud, Sugababes and McFly to lend their music to special Happy Meal toys and perform at one of its Central London restaurants.

It is also recruiting other bands to feature in the 'Pop Challenge' promotion, which will offer a competition for the chance to see the performances.

McDonald's denied a report in The Sun that it had agreed to offer free downloads of a McFly song.

The deal between the chain and McFly was put together by Ric Salmon, a former EMI A&R executive who now helps artists find alternative ways to market and release their content through his company Harvest Entertainment.

Salmon said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for the band. This type of deal is a viable route of marketing for the band and it is great that the focus is beginning to settle on the younger generation of bands.

"There have been no official terms agreed but the door has been opened for longer term plans and both the band and McDonald's are very excited."

The fast-food chain has in the past used solo star Justin Timberlake in a global ad campaign.

Jack Horner, founder of music marketing agency Frukt, said: "This is an exciting time. The growth in brand deals such as the Groove Armada and the Bacardi partnerships mean labels are having to fight their corner. This is a new era and McDonald's will be a fantastic partner to boost McFly's career."