Will the Travis Scott Meal deal lead to more celebrity collabs?

Photos: McDonald’s
Sep 23, 2020

McDonald’s has scored a breakout hit with a limited-edition collaboration with rapper and record producer Travis Scott. Much like those by sneaker brands and fashion houses, the partnership aims at helping the fast-food chain better connect with Millennial and Gen-Z customers.

Introduced Sept. 9, the Travis Scott Meal features a Quarter Pounder, fries with BBQ sauce and a Sprite for $6. The initial rollout of the month-long partnership also included a merchandise capsule, McDonald’s crew apparel and a commercial.

By Sept. 16, McDonald’s was experiencing ingredient shortages thanks to the combo’s popularity as well as merchandise sell-outs. The company is promising additional “drops.”

The partnership marked McDonald’s first celebrity meal since Michael Jordan’s “McJordan” in 1992. A leaked memo attained by Business Insider indicates others are in the works.

“Travis is the first in a suite of big celebrities that resonate across segments and are true fans of our food and our brand,” wrote Morgan Flatley, SVP and McDonald’s U.S. chief marketing and digital customer experience officer. She described Mr. Scott as “the definition of big in culture” while adding his inclusion “will resonate and spark excitement with our youthful multicultural customers, and has a few surprises to delight our crew and ensure they are part of the excitement.”

Also known as Cactus Jack, the Grammy Award-nominee had already scored successful collaborations with Nike, Epic Games’ Fortnite, Reese’s Puffs and Hot Wheels. For Mr. Scott, the partnership can expand his “brand” to a larger audience.

McDonald’s can tap into Mr. Scott’s youth appeal and benefits without having to come up with any new menu items to support the promotion.

Dunkin’ has also recently partnered with TikTok influencer Charli D’Amelio on her own drink, but some are wondering to what degree other celebrity alliances around food will prove effective.

Wrote Jon Caramanica for The New York Times, “Part of why the Scott/McDonald’s alliance feels different is because of the intimacy of food — it’s one thing to attach a celebrity to a luxury item, but to attach one to a commodity product is a far bolder statement.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of the opportunity for rappers and other celebrity limited-edition collaborations in the QSR space? Do you see such collaborations having a similar impact in fashion and other retailing verticals?

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"I'm sure right now in the Wendy's and Burger King board rooms they are trying to figure out what celebrity they are going to be working with Q1 2021."

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6 Comments on "Will the Travis Scott Meal deal lead to more celebrity collabs?"

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Joel Goldstein

Fashion was the first to make collaborations like this a success with brands like Supreme, McDonald’s has taken the strategy mainstream. The success of McDonald’s is most definitely going to spur more collaborations. I’m sure right now in the Wendy’s and Burger King board rooms they are trying to figure out what celebrity they are going to be working with Q1 2021.

Richard Hernandez
Richard Hernandez
Director of Commerce
2 years 12 days ago

This collaboration has been very successful so far. To me, Mr. Scott is believable in the commercials – as a consumer, I think this IS his meal he eats at McDonald’s. I think some previous celebrity collaborations have been hit or miss whether it is in food or fashion. It has to be a believable collaboration.

Michael Terpkosh

QSR chains should do it now and do it fast! It is a great idea to generate excitement with certain consumer demographics and generations creating impulse sales. Especially during this pandemic, consumer excitement is very important to increase engagement and a social media response. QSR chains need to do this fast because ultimately the more celebrity limited-edition collaborations will dilute the buzz.

Shep Hyken

This is your straight-forward influencer marketing program. Popular and recognizable names can help influence a buyer’s decision, as long as it’s the right influencer. It doesn’t matter if it’s food, clothing, cars, shoes — the list goes on and on. Simply put, it works.

Ryan Mathews

I think QSRs should look before they leap on this opportunity. I shudder to think what might be in a Cardi B fun meal, for example. The potential off-color, WAPper,” jokes unfortunately almost write themselves. And that’s the issue. Sports figures are hard enough to control and predict. Remember Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Maria Sharapova, Oscar Pistorius, Michael Vick, Ray Rice, Barry Bonds, Aaron Hernandez, etc., et. alia? Now if sports endorsements are problematic, rapper endorsements seem a bit like playing endorsement Russian Roulette. And these problems are category, channel, and industry agnostic.

Craig Sundstrom

I think Mr. Caramanica touched on the issue plainly enough, though I might worry about the logic of the endorsement more than its “intimacy.” The further one gets from a natural connection in an endorsement (athletes>shoes, musicians>guitars, etc) the less likely it is to have lasting value.

"I'm sure right now in the Wendy's and Burger King board rooms they are trying to figure out what celebrity they are going to be working with Q1 2021."

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