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McDonald’s Travis Scott campaign is a brilliant marketing ploy

  • On Tuesday, McDonald’s debuted the Travis Scott Meal — a Quarter Pounder with cheese, bacon, and lettuce, medium fries with BBQ Sauce, and a Sprite.
  • The limited-time deal only uses items already on the McDonald’s menu, giving the fast-food chain buzz without adding complexity to its kitchens. 
  • McDonald’s said in a memo obtained by Business Insider that Scott is just the “first in a suite of big celebrities” with whom the chain plans to partner. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It’s the oldest trick in the book — a fast-food chain drumming up sales with a limited-time menu offering. 

But in the case of McDonald’s partnership with Travis Scott, the chain did not need to add a single new ingredient to its kitchens to pull off the deal. 

McDonald’s debuted the Travis Scott Meal on September 8 — a Quarter Pounder with cheese, bacon, and lettuce, medium fries with BBQ Sauce, and a Sprite. The combo, which is the rapper’s favorite meal at the fast-food chain, costs $6 and will be available until October 4. 

Of course, the very same meal will be available after that date. You will just need to order a burger, fries, and Sprite instead of asking for the “Travis Scott Meal.” 

Limited-time offerings are a fast-food staple, with chains like Taco Bell and KFC regularly cycling through new, on-trend menu items. The limited-time menu items help generate buzz and fuel urgency around a brand, which can turn customers into advertisers as they share photos on social media or discuss the new food options with friends. 

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However, the downside of new menu items is that they create more complexities in the kitchen. Speed is crucial in fast-food, and having to buy new ingredients can be expensive — especially if a menu item doesn’t end up selling as well as the company predicted.

Right now, McDonald’s franchisees — who own and operate 95% of the McDonald’s locations in the US — are pushing for a simplified menu. The chain pared down its menu during the pandemic, cutting salads and all-day breakfast. Franchisees are pushing back against many of these items returning to the menu, sources told Business Insider. 

That makes the Travis Scott Meal the perfect value proposition. People are excited about a new meal, tied to an on-trend celebrity. But franchisees do not need to actually make workers’ lives more complicated by adding new items to the menu. 

And yet, not all franchisees are pleased with the partnership, with some opposing the deal due to some of Scott’s more explicit lyrics. The partnership is undeniably creating buzz for McDonald’s, however, with the partnership holding the No. 1 top trending spot on Twitter the day it launched. 

McDonald’s looks like it will likely attempt to recreate the apparent success of the Travis Scott partnership in the future through other celebrity collaborations. 

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

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