McDonald’s serves up ‘Travis Scott Meal’ as part of broader collaboration with rapper

Linda J. Dodson

Dive Brief:

  • McDonald’s for the first time in almost 30 years is naming a menu item after a celebrity, part of a broader collaboration with rapper Travis Scott. The burger chain for a limited time will offer the “Travis Scott Meal” that includes a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, fries with barbecue dipping sauce and a Sprite — Scott’s favorite order, the company announced.
  • Cactus Jack, the music label started by Scott, designed custom T-shirts for McDonald’s employees to wear during the promotional period from Sept. 8 to Oct. 4. Scott and McDonald’s also plan to collaborate on charity efforts during the program.
  • The last time McDonald’s named a menu item after a celebrity was in 1992, when it offered the “McJordan” in honor of basketball star Michael Jordan. Scott and McDonald’s will share additional announcements about the partnership to reach younger restaurant-goers over the next month.

Dive Insight:

McDonald’s marketing partnership with Travis Scott is the burger chain’s latest effort to connect with younger consumers by featuring a popular recording artist.

The promotion is notable for renaming a menu item after a celebrity, which McDonald’s hasn’t done in decades, and follows efforts by Chipotle Mexican Grill and Dunkin’ to collaborate with popular personalities on promotions during the pandemic. The efforts may herald a broader trend of restaurant chains working with influencers to help extend their messaging on digital platforms that are more effective at reaching younger consumers than traditional media outlets.

McDonald’s deal with Scott has invited criticism from franchisees who object to the association with a rapper whose songs include explicit lyrics, in contrast to the chain’s family-friendly image, Business Insider reported. It’s too early to tell whether there will be a major backlash against the company for the partnership, but those concerns demonstrate some of the pitfalls of brands working with celebrities or influencers on a marketing campaign. Scott is popular with younger adults and teens, as seen in his virtual concert in video game “Fortnite” that drew more than 12 million attendees in April.

The collaboration with Scott is an early indication of McDonald’s plans to boost its marketing efforts during the second half of the year, following a period of minimized activity as the coronavirus pandemic hurt the restaurant industry. In July, CEO Chris Kempczinski said the company would focus on “the three Ds: drive-thru, delivery and digital” as part of its plan to recover from lockdowns that hampered sales. He also said McDonald’s would boost its marketing spend by $200 million — an amount equal to a month of typical expenditures — to help fuel a rebound. The increase is a significant reversal from its 70% cut in spending during Q2, when same-store sales fell 24% worldwide.

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