I’m Lovin’ It: Travis Scott Collab Reignites McDonald’s Slogan

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One of our recent blog posts discussed the benefits of startups collaborating on projects with other companies in the area. But it’s not just upstarts that benefit from compelling collabs. Even huge companies like McDonald’s can spark a newfound interest in their products by working with other brands — or celebrities. In fact, McDonald’s has proven the power of collabs by rolling out its new Travis Scott campaign. Teaming with the musician has reignited McDonald’s slogan, getting people talking about the chain. People are officially “lovin’ it” again.

And the publicity surrounding this newfound collaboration may just help McDonald’s recover from the revenue decline it’s seen this year. Like many businesses, the fast food chain was met with difficulties following the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its Q1 earnings for 2020 fell by 20 percent, and its Q2 earnings failed to reach expectations. There’s no denying the company could use some enthusiasm surrounding its branding. Thankfully, associating itself with Scott seems to have helped on that front. But who is the musician, and why do people care so much?

Cactus Jack Meets McDonald’s Slogan

McDonald’s unveiled its Travis Scott campaign on its Instagram earlier this month. Its caption cleverly alluded to Scott’s record label, Cactus Jack, pairing it with a burger to mark the collab. The chain then went on to introduce a Travis Scott Meal, a combo that costs only $6 and requires no new products. The meal consists of Quarter Pounder with cheese, bacon, and lettuce, along with medium fries, BBQ Sauce, and Sprite. And although this is standard fare for the brand, fans of the rapper have jumped at the opportunity to try it. As Business Insider points out, that’s the beauty of this marketing campaign. It’s getting people excited about McDonald’s already-established products. How? By associating them with a familiar face.

And Scott has certainly marked his place as a trending rapper. He’s sold over 45 million certified records in the U.S., and even surpassed Drake with his 2018 album “Astroworld.” That album, which is lauded as one of his best, saw 270,000 physical sales and 349 million streams. Add in the fact that he has a baby with Kylie Jenner has only catapulted his publicity. Scott doesn’t need to embrace the McDonald’s slogan to achieve fame. The two forces coming together, however, sparks an interest beyond their individual popularity. And the fact that the collab is considered an unexpected development by some only elevates that intrigue.

After McDonald’s rolled out its new meal, Scott also released some merch inspired by the fast food chain. Again, the marketing of this collaboration benefits McDonald’s in a clever way. Scott is handling the production and sales aspect of the merchandise. But with its branding plastered all over the products, McDonald’s is reaping the benefits. It’s as effective as plastering the McDonald’s slogan all over the place. The collab is truly a win-win.

McDonald’s Celebrity Mash-Ups

Of course, this isn’t the first time McDonald’s has teamed with a celebrity for marketing purposes. It’s been a while, but the brand honored legendary basketball player Michael Jordan with his own meal. That said, Scott is the first celebrity to appear on the chain’s menu since Jordan. That in itself is enough to catch people’s attention. Jordan’s limited-edition meal functioned in much the same way as Scott’s. Comprised of the athlete’s “favorite ingredients,” it leveraged ingredients McDonald’s was already using. People still rushed to try the “new” menu item, though, proving huge associations do work.

And according to Morgan Flatley, McDonald’s chief marketing officer in the U.S., this isn’t the last of the chain’s collabs. It intends to work with other big names moving forward, so consumers can expect new celebrity meals to arrive soon.

“Travis is the first in a suite of big celebrities that resonate across segments and are true fans of our food and our brand,” Flatley said in a memo obtained by Business Insider. “We can’t wait to share the rest of the lineup … in due time.”

If the company’s collaboration with Scott wasn’t enough to get people talking, that sentiment likely will. With the latest campaign still unfolding, customers can start speculating on which celebrity will be next. Who else will embrace the McDonald’s slogan and see themselves added to the menu? If we’ve learned anything from the Scott collab, the next celebrity is likely to have an affinity for the brand already. If they’re an unexpected pick, the brand will fare that much better. Whatever piques people’s interest works best.

The Takeaway

So what can smaller brands take away from McDonald’s latest marketing move? To start, clever collaborations can work in your favor, even if they only get people talking. That word of mouth alone may do your company wonders. Sure, not every business can land a celebrity like Travis Scott. But don’t discount the benefits of teaming with well-known faces in your community. On a smaller-scale, that can generate just as much hype. And it helps build lasting relationships in the process.

RJ Huebert
RJ Huebert is the founder and managing principal of HBT Digital Consulting, a Pittsburgh-based business. A digital marketing professional, he specializes in search engine and social media marketing for B-to-C companies looking for lead generation and online optimization. He is also the co-race director for three Tampa Bay 5K events called The Great Mother’s Day Race, The Great Father’s Day Race, and The Great Gay 5K. The races have had over 12,000 participants and have raised over $7,000 for local charities since 2012. Previously, RJ was the marketing director for a world-wide market research firm, and has held management roles in verticals including healthcare, banking, and for-profit education. Helping local business succeed online is his daily passion, launching 5K events gives him joy, and contributing to the Pittsburgh business scene inspires him. RJ earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pittsburgh and Master of Arts from the University of South Florida, focusing on Strategic Communication Management. Currently, he sits on the American Marketing Association Board of Directors - Pittsburgh Chapter. He resides in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife Taylor, chocolate Lab Coco, and a Jack Russel Terrier named Rosie.