How 'Camp McDonald's' Evolved the Celebrity Fast Food Merch Partnership
McDonald's has been one of the pioneers of collaborating with musicians for branded merchandise and meals, having already partnered with Travis Scott, J Balvin, BTS, Saweetie and Mariah Carey. Its latest collaboration with Kid Cudi took things in a different direction, adding some new wrinkles beyond a simple co-branded product drop.
In early July, McDonald's kicked off its month-long "Camp McDonald's" promotion, where customers could grab branded merchandise, order new twists on menu items and watch live music all within the app. The first week started with a giant pool float shaped like Grimace, and continued with co-branded merchandise for virtual concert performers Kid Cudi, BIBI and Omar Apollo.
There’s a promotion that started today called Camp McDonalds’s where they are releasing retro merch and deals. Currently in line for this retro Grimace pool float! 🤪 pic.twitter.com/2kiHMTHJ6c
— Ash B (@ashmb13) July 5, 2022
Once the celebrity meal trend kicked off, just about all of the major fast food chains participated in some way or another. For the most part, they followed the McDonald's playbook and introduced special menu items and corresponding branded merchandise in limited quantities to capitalize on exclusivity. Some, like the Tim Horton's TimBiebs line, worked like gangbusters.
Rather than let the trend fizzle out, McDonald's is breathing fresh life into the concept by doing more than just another co-branded line. It's also including social media and app integration as much as possible by making things available through the McDonald's app and the virtual events.
— The Chosen One (@KiDCuDi) July 28, 2022
It's also veering into the streetwear world by selling certain products at high prices. (Though that's left some customers unhappy.)
— Thesaurus Rex (@NDJustice13) July 7, 2022
Even if your clients aren't able to partner with big names like Kid Cudi, there are some things we can learn here. The main takeaway is that people like a theme. If you can do more than just slap a logo on a product, you make the promotion an event in itself, rather than just a tool. Sure, things should be as evergreen as possible, but people want to commemorate things. Adding a clever twist on something, like incorporating a logo into a holiday-themed promotion or working together with another local entity like a sports team, can add just a little bit of appeal to a product.
In this instance, McDonald's knows that Kid Cudi fans will want special edition merchandise, whether they order from McDonald's frequently or not.
It's also another example of looking at retail trends and appealing to current buyer trends, rather than only relying on the tried-and-true products. Some products will never go out of style. T-shirts will always have a place in fashion. But, you can pay close attention to fit styles and decoration techniques that appeal to people right now to inform your designs.
When all else fails, a pool float shaped like a giant purple monster usually gets people excited.