If you talk to Jennifer “JJ” Healan about any of McDonald’sprevious partnerships, she’ll tell you that each collaboration is anchored by what the brand calls a “fan truth".
“We’re taking one of the most nostalgic McDonald’s experiences and literally repackaging it in a new way".
If you talk to Jennifer “JJ” Healan about any of McDonald’sprevious partnerships, she’ll tell you that each collaboration is anchored by what the brand calls a “fan truth,” whether a particular truth references rapper Saweetie‘s love for creating unique food combinations or that McDonald’s Sprite tastes noticeably different. For its newest campaign, the legacy fast food chain is tapping into the fan nostalgia surrounding a childhood staple: The Happy Meal.
“It’s bringing that experience and the nostalgia with the Happy Meal, but we’re doing it through the lens of adults,” Healan explained of the campaign to Adweek.
To give this classic experience a modern-day adult twist, the brand has teamed with Cynthia Lu’s popular clothing brand, Cactus Plant Flea Market, largely known for its streetwear and A-list fans like Ye and Pharrell Williams, to design a limited-edition boxed bundle meal that mirrors elements of the Happy Meal experience.
Beginning Oct. 3, customers can order the Cactus Plant Flea Market Box in-restaurant, in the drive-thru, by delivery or on the McDonald’s App. Designed by the clothing brand itself, the box will include the customer’s choice of a Big Mac or 10 McNuggets, fries, a drink and one of four collectible figurines made just for this exclusive partnership.
“We’re taking one of the most nostalgic McDonald’s experiences and literally repackaging it in a new way that’s hyper-relevant for our adult fans,” said Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s USA chief marketing and customer experience officer, in a statement. “I can’t wait to give fans a unique piece of art and culture as we dive headfirst into the dynamic world of Cactus Plant Flea Market together next week.”
In addition to the meal itself, fans will have multiple opportunities to grab Cactus Plant Flea Market x McDonald’s merch. One drop will go live on Oct. 3 at 11 AM ET through a dedicated website and another is linked to the McDonald’s App, where fans will be automatically entered for a chance to win free items each week upon ordering. While the general drop will feature a variety of tees, hoodies and special collectibles, the sweepstakes (or as the brand calls it, Appstakes) includes customized merch like a Grimace chair.
To enhance the fan experience, McDonald’s has also teamed with Snap for scannable AR technology. Integrating technology is McDonald’s way of connecting with its Gen Z consumer base, according to Healan: “This was about marrying the real world with the digital world and bringing this experience to life in a way that we’ve never done before.”
Both Google and Facebook, which own the largest digital advertising platforms in the world, also make extensive use of outdoor advertising. That should tell you something.
While the Cactus Plant Flea Market Box is a wholly different fan experience for the brand, Healan says it still manages to continue the fan truth strategy of McDonald’s high-profile Famous Orders deals, which have placed celebrities like BTS, J Balvin, Travis Scott and Mariah Carey at the center.
“If you think about what that fan truth was [with Famous Orders], it was that no matter how big or famous you are, everyone has McDonald’s order,” she said. “It is just a truth that we see out in the world. And as we think about our fan truth strategy, this example is no different. You think about that moment when you were a kid and you found that sense of joy as you reached into the box to see what the surprise was. And so that was something we wanted to harness.”
Much like those previous Orders, this partnership features a famous name that is both uniquely tied to culture and a genuine fan of the brand, thereby allowing the brand to tap into culture in a natural way. Still, Healan notes that this team-up is different in its ability to bring a number of different worlds together.
“What makes the CPFM Box so special, and sets it apart from some of our other collabs, is that it sits right at the intersection of art, culture and commerce,” she told Adweek. “We’re making this world of art and fashion more accessible to our fans, and pairing that experience with the McDonald’s food they already love.”
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