The success of the “Famous Meals” is self-perpetuating, too. McDonald’s has seen more celebs want to engage with the brand, much as athletes would clamor to be in ESPN’s “This is SportsCenter” campaign.
“As I said to my team, ‘We’ve called culture. Guess what? Culture's calling back,’” Hassan said. “When you have Adele saying her last meal would be McDonald’s, you're in the zeitgeist. Now the question is, how do you stay in it so it doesn't look like you tried to buy your way in but you actually have an authentic relationship with it?’”
To Hassan, this isn’t so different from when he worked in sports with brands such as Gatorade. “Those athletes already had a relationship with the brand,” he said. “It's the same here. Then you can develop things together, which is what we’ve done.”
Spreading the love in digital and experiential
The new campaign will also live in digital and IRL activations. There will be a “truth or dare” game inside the McDonald’s app; a kissing booth in Times Square, where couples will be photographed and their images transmitted to a digital billboard; partnerships with TikTok and (of course) Tinder; and special packaging for the meal itself. The idea is to be everywhere Gen Z is.
“The design of the meal picks up on the whimsy of Valentine’s, but also on the whimsy of Cardi and Offset's relationship,” Hassan said. “And watch them, too, because they're going to be really engaged from a social perspective.”
As the campaign rolls out in the coming weeks, McDonald’s will be looking at sales of the meal, of course, but also at metrics such as store traffic and brand sentiment.
“There are a lot of brand metrics in terms of connectivity and culture and relevance,” Hassan said. “It’s not purely on the sales of the [celebrity] meal, because what we’ve seen is the meal creates excitement and engagement. You may come in and decide, hey, good for Cardi and Offset, that's their meal. This is mine. Which is great.”
They’ll be closely monitoring how Gen Z responds, too, Hassan said.
“We’re looking at how we're continuing to grow share and penetration with that younger audience, which we've seen now year over year,” he said, adding that diverse communities are “also really important to our business. We don't even really talk general market anymore. We literally will run our metrics by all the different communities and see how we're doing in there and how they respond.”
One metric that may be tougher to measure?
“I suspect there'll be a few folks in trouble for not knowing their partners' orders,” Hassan joked.