Why Your Favorite Artist Has a “McDonald’s Meal”
By Ben Spaeth
Photo: Taste of Home – Source
McDonald’s has been known for their Happy Meals for decades now. The meals feature a toy that is usually related to an upcoming movie release, tv show, or toy brand. The Happy Meal offers great marketing potential to anyone looking to get kids interested in their brand. As of recently however, McDonald’s have expanded this concept to their actual meals.
It started in 2020, when Travis Scott teamed up with McDonald’s to create his own specialty meal on the menu. This isn’t the first time McDonald’s has teamed up with an individual to create a specialty meal. In 1992 McDonald’s teamed up with Michael Jordan to create his own meal, which like Scott’s, featured a quarter pounder. However, the origins of the modern celebrity influencer meal are more closely related to the Travis Scott meal than the Michael Jordan meal. As the practice blew up following the release of the Travis Scott meal.
Travis Scott’s initial endorsement ended up being $5 million, with an additional $15 million being made by Scott from merchandise sales. Along with the release of his fast food meal, Scott dropped shirts, shorts, and even a 3 foot long chicken nugget body pillow. The meal itself was designed to be a slightly varied version of a quarter pounder. Instead of one slice of cheese it has two, along with two slices of bacon.
The Travis Scott meal was a massive success for McDonald’s. It became a TikTok trend to go to McDonald’s and order the Travis Scott meal. In the second quarter of 2020, McDonald’s stock price was down 8.7%. After the release of the Travis Scott meal, the stock price rose to a 4.6% gain in the third quarter. So it’s no wonder that McDonald’s continued the influencer meal after the Travis Scott promotion ended. Since Travis Scott’s meal, McDonald’s has given meals to BTS, J Balvin, and Saweetie. The most popular of the meals being the BTS meal which featured nuggets, two specialty sauces, and a coke. After the release of the meal, McNugget sales jumped up 250%. The BTS meal also increased restaurant visits by 12%, beating the 9% jump from the Travis Scott meal. In addition, BTS’s being a globally known band also helped increase McDonald’s sales worldwide.
The success of McDonald’s celebrity meals has started a new offshoot in the fast food community. Dunkin’ released a Charli D’Amelio drink. Burger King has done a few celebrity meals. Celebrities that have partnered with Burger King include Lil Huddy, Nelly, and Anitta. Justin Bieber partnered with Tim Hortons to create his own doughnut holes and Megan Thee Stallion partnered with Popeyes to create her own sauce.
The model of having celebrities that appeal to the Gen Z demographic, endorse meals at fast food restaurants is actually mobilizing the youth to go out and spend money. These influencers have massive followings that they can mobilize on a whim. Making an endorsement with them a fairly sound investment. Influencers are also making a pretty penny off of these endorsements. Not only do they make money from placing their name on a meal, but often influencers will release merchandise to coincide with the release of the meal. Most influencers make more money off the merchandise than they do off the meal. Endorsements also tend to come naturally to some influencers. It was no secret that Charli D’Amelio liked Dunkin’ before she had her own drink with the chain. Travis Scott also posted himself eating at McDonald’s numerous times before his deal and Justin Bieber confessed to Tim Hortons that he actually used to sing a song to his siblings about Tim Hortons. This makes partnering with influencers a fairly easy task as most influencers are already a natural fit for popular fast food companies.
There was a recent scandal in the influencer meal community. A man named Kyle Scheele faked a prank in which he placed a cardboard cutout of himself in his local Kum & Go to see if anyone would notice. After his prank went viral, he announced that he had teamed up with Kum & Go to create his own influencer meal called The Kyle Scheele Meale. The meal featured a “pizza sandwich” which was two slices of pizza on top of one another and a Red Bull. People quickly learned that the video was fake and actually was a marketing scheme devised by Kum & Go. While Scheele insists he came up with the prank, the video itself was solicited by Kum & Go, who was looking for a cheaper way of creating an influencer meal. Their strategy was to create a TikTok that went viral and then capitalize on that viral TikTok by creating an influencer meal. As to whether the Scheele Meale actually increased sales has yet to be seen, but the videos have generated outrage in the internet community who claim the videos are deceptive marketing and were not clearly labeled as an advertisement. At the very least, the scandal has more people talking about Kum & Go than previously would have.
Celebrity influencer meals have shown to be an effective marketing gimmick for fast food chains and influencers alike. Consumers have also shown no signs of fatigue of the meals. Most fans are more than happy to pay a few dollars for a specially designed meal by one of their favorite artists or influencers.