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‍Celebrity Meals: The Secret To McDonald's Marketing Success

Digital Advertising

McDonald's has been a household name in the fast food industry for decades, known for iconic menu items such as the Big Mac and the McChicken.

However, in recent years, the company has been experimenting with a new marketing strategy: collaborating with celebrities to create limited-time meals.

From "Cactus Jack" by Travis Scott to "J Balvin Meal" by J Balvin, these collaborations have gotten a lot of buzz on social media and beyond.

But what exactly are these celebrity meals for, and why is McDonald's investing in them?

In this article, our digital marketing agency in Miami will take a look at the phenomenon of McDonald's celebrity meals, examining their impact on the brand and delving into what they reveal about the fast-food industry's evolving marketing tactics.

Let's get started!

A Brief History of McDonald's Celebrity Meals

McDonald's is no stranger to celebrity endorsements, having previously featured Michael Jordan, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake in advertisements. However, in recent years, the company has taken its celebrity partnerships to a new level by introducing limited-time meals created in collaboration with famous musicians, athletes, and other public figures.

McDonald's first celebrity meal debuted in 2019 when the fast food chain collaborated with rapper Travis Scott on the "Cactus Jack" meal.

Travis Scott rolled up to McDonald’s in style to pick up his signature order, The Travis Scott.
Jerritt Clark, Courtesy of McDonald's

The meal, which included a Quarter Pounder with cheese, bacon, lettuce, medium fries with BBQ sauce, and a Sprite, was only available briefly at McDonald's restaurants across the United States. The collaboration was a huge success, as evidenced by long lines and social media buzz surrounding the meal.

After the Travis Scott meal did well, McDonald's continued the trend by working with other well-known artists. In 2020, J Balvin, a reggaeton singer, made his own meal.

It comprised a Big Mac, medium fries with ketchup, and an Oreo McFlurry. The ad for the meal was full of bright colors and a fun vibe, just like J Balvin's personality and style.

In 2021, McDonald's collaborated with Korean pop sensation BTS to create a meal that included a 10-piece Chicken McNuggets, medium fries, a Coke, and two new dipping sauces inspired by South Korean flavors. 

The BTS meal was a smashing success, with some locations selling out within hours of going on sale. The employees at our digital marketing agency in Miami even lined up for it!

This year, in honor of the season of love, McDonald's created the first-ever celebrity duo meal with lifelong fans—Cardi B and Offset—perfect for sharing with your plus one, situationship, best friend, or anyone in between.

Cardi B and Offset eating their McDonald's celebrity meal
Photo from McDonald's

Fans flocked to participating restaurants nationwide on February 14 to get the Cardi B & Offset Meal, which includes each of their go-to menu items as well as their favorites to split on date night:

  • Cardi B's classic McDonald's Cheeseburger with Tangy BBQ sauce and a Large Coca-Cola®
  • Offset's Quarter Pounder® with Cheese and a Large Hi-C® Orange Lavaburst®
  • And to share... a large order of World Famous Fries® and a warm, flakey Apple Pie.

Other celebrities who have collaborated with McDonald's for limited-time meals include rapper Saweetie, Latin music star Bad Bunny, and musician and actor Jaden Smith.

McDonald's is able to make their brand seem exclusive and exciting by teaming up with famous people who have a lot of loyal fans. This creates a lot of buzz on social media and elsewhere.

The Impact of Celebrity Meals on McDonald's

Celebrity meal collaborations have had an overwhelmingly positive effect on McDonald's. In addition to modernizing the McDonald's brand and appealing to younger demographics, the experts at our digital marketing agency in Miami believe that the collaborations have produced the following benefits:

Increased Brand Awareness and Customer Engagement

Celebrity meal collaborations have been incredibly effective at generating buzz and excitement surrounding the McDonald's brand. McDonald's is able to reach new audiences and engage with customers in a unique and inventive manner by partnering with celebrities who have a large and devoted fan base.

Additionally, the limited availability of the meals creates a sense of urgency and exclusivity, which can increase customer traffic at McDonald's restaurants.

Surge on Sales and Revenue

McDonald's has benefited in terms of sales and revenue from celebrity meal collaborations. The Travis Scott meal, for instance, was reported to have increased sales at McDonald's locations by up to 4.8%. In comparison, the BTS meal drove a 41% sales increase for the company during the second quarter of 2021.

These sales increases are substantial for a company as large as McDonald's and demonstrate the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement in generating customer traffic and sales.

Part of the Bigger Picture

The success of the celebrity meal collaborations has prompted comparisons to McDonald's and the fast food industry's other marketing strategies.

Analysts have noted that celebrity meal collaborations are part of a larger trend toward experiential marketing, which aims to provide customers with unique and memorable experiences that go beyond the product itself.

In the fast food industry, additional examples of experiential marketing include Taco Bell's pop-up hotel and KFC's virtual reality training program for employees.

Risks and Benefits of Celebrity Collaborations in the Fast Food Industry

As with any marketing strategy, there are benefits and risks to fast-food restaurants partnering with celebrities. The experts at our digital marketing agency in Miami has compiled a list of the three most important benefits and risks of this marketing approach.

weighing risk and benefit


  • Boost in Sales: Celebrity endorsements can increase foot traffic and sales by creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity around limited-time offers.
  • Modernizing the Brand: Collaboration with celebrities can help fast-food restaurants appeal to younger generations and remain relevant in a rapidly changing industry.
  • Cost-Effective Marketing: Compared to traditional advertising methods, celebrity collaborations can be more cost-effective in generating buzz and excitement about a brand.


  • Potential Backlash: Celebrity partnerships can fail if one of the stars loses popularity with their fans or gets caught up in a scandal.
  • Misaligned Brand Image: If the values or brand image of the fast food chain don't match up with the celebrity partner, it can confuse and even hurt the brand's reputation.
  • Short-Term Benefits: Most celebrity partnerships last only a short time, so fast-food chains must keep making new ones to get the benefits.


McDonald's makes celebrity meals to raise brand awareness, boost sales, and attract younger people. By working with celebrities and social media influencers, the fast-food chain can get people excited about its brand, make limited time offers feel exclusive and urgent, and appeal to the tastes and interests of younger people.

RELATED: How To Find the Best Micro-influencers for Your Business

Despite potential risks such as a misaligned brand image or backlash, McDonald's has successfully implemented this marketing strategy. Celebrity meals have proven to be a cost-effective way to promote new or existing menu items and offer unique experiences to customers.

Indeed, celebrity collaborations can be an effective marketing strategy for certain businesses. However, whether or not companies should use this marketing strategy is determined by many factors, including the nature of the business, target audience, and available resources.

Is It Time For Your Brand To Work With A Celebrity?

If you believe working with celebrities or social media influencers is right for your company but don't know where to begin, consider partnering with our digital marketing agency in Miami.

We at Digital Resource have extensive experience with influencer marketing. We can guarantee that we can help your business grow through conversion-driven digital marketing strategies.

Contact us today to learn more about our services.

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