McDonald’s continues celebrity menus with reggaeton star J Balvin

Dive Brief:

  • McDonald’s has added a new menu item, the J Balvin Meal, which is named after the popular reggaeton musician and features a Big Mac, medium fries with ketchup and an Oreo McFlurry. It will be available from Oct. 5 through Nov. 1, according to a press release.
  • Customers who purchase the meal through the company’s app will get the meal at a reduced price, essentially making the McFlurry free. The brand promised more Balvin-related surprises in the coming weeks.
  • The Balvin meal follows last month’s promotion with Travis Scott, which involved a meal consisting of a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, fries with barbecue sauce and a Sprite.

Dive Insight:

McDonald’s is hoping lightning strikes twice with J Balvin’s meal after Travis Scott’s meal proved so successful the fast-food chain found itself facing a Quarter Pounder shortage last month. The Scott meal was the first menu item named after a celebrity since 1992’s McJordan, named in honor of basketball star Michael Jordan. Balvin’s meal is reportedly one the singer orders regularly while on tour, per the press release.

The musician-themed promotions, which do not feature any new items, seem to be a successful tactic to reach younger customers at a time when foot traffic has been curtailed due to the pandemic. During Q2, McDonald’s sales dropped 30%, although sales in the U.S. had begun to regain momentum by the end of the quarter in July.

The chain’s drive-thru, digital and delivery businesses have been bright spots during the health crisis, with limited-edition meals tied to popular musicians giving the chain a way to target young, digitally savvy consumers known to have a penchant for delivery. Adding incentives such as the free McFlurry are a way to encourage consumers to use the company’s app, which boosts loyalty, R.J. Hottovy, restaurant analyst at Morningstar, told CNN.

Beyond the convenience of ordering themed meals, these collaborations also have the potential to help McDonald’s boost its image as an authentic and inclusive brand, something it has struggled with amid reports of discrimination by franchisees and messaging that has missed the mark.

McDonald’s joins other marketers in embracing partnerships with music artists — particularly those from the worlds of hip-hop and rap — as a bid to expand a brand’s potential audience and achieve “authenticity.” In the past year, Post Malone became the face of Bud Light’s marketing, and Lil Nas X appeared in a Super Bowl ad for Doritos. More recently, Corona beer, facing a branding challenge linked to the pandemic, launched a new campaign featuring Snoop Dogg.

“With all the talk about the need for brands to be authentic, transparent, collaborative, accessible and inclusive, I feel that tapping into the driving forces that feel close to culture is a way that [brands] have been trying to be those things,” Casandra Malowanczyk, director of strategy at Stink Studios, told Marketing Dive earlier this year.

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