McDonald’s is selling single Chicken McNuggets in response to an obscure math theorem

TBWA\Switzerland builds a quirky campaign to ensure all number combinations of McNuggets ordering are possible

Published On
Dec 05, 2023
Product shot of the "Chicken McNuggets of Love" single McNugget

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Marketers don’t often take their cues from math geeks, but McDonald’s Switzerland is out with a fun campaign that really crunches the numbers when it comes to Chicken McNuggets.

The whole thing is based around something that’s become known, in niche corners of the internet, as the “Chicken McNugget Theorem.” McDonald’s originally sold McNuggets in packs of 9 and 20, which made it impossible to order specific numbers of them. For example, you could only order eight different combinations of McNuggets by the time you got to 40 nuggets. You could order 9 (single pack of 9), 18 (two packs of 9), 20 (single pack of 20), 27 (three packs of 9), 29 (a 9 and a 20), 36 (four packs of 9), 38 (two packs of 9 and a pack of 20) or 40 (two packs of 20).

However, fun math fact—there is a number above which all order numbers are possible. With packs of 9 and 20, that number turns out to be 151. You can’t order 151 McNuggets in combinations of 9 and 20, but you can order every number above that. (Trust us on this.)

A similar theorem applies to other combinations of McNuggets, such as 5 and 9. (It doesn’t actually work in the U.S. currently, though, where you can only order 4, 6, 10, 20 or 40 packs. That doesn’t let you order any odd number, no matter how high you go.)

Anyway, thanks to TBWA\Switzerland, people in that country can now order any number of McNuggets at all—because for a limited time, they’re selling 1-packs to round out any order number.

This case study explains more:

 

Because math isn’t everyone’s thing, the campaign is also being presented in a more broadly appealing way—as a solution to sharing when you can’t split the McNuggets evenly. Here’s that spot:

 

The whole campaign is peculiar but fun—a rare gift for those who love numbers.

“With the Chicken McNuggets of Love, we listened to our fans,” said Severine Caspard of McDonald’s Switzerland. “Because sharing is an important part of our food culture, we don’t want anyone to miss out. Now with individual nuggets, everyone can order the exact number of Chicken McNuggets they need for fair sharing and to show their love for friends or family.”

Check out some more assets from the campaign below.

Ad from the Chicken McNuggets of Love campaign

Ad from the Chicken McNuggets of Love campaign

Ad from the Chicken McNuggets of Love campaign

Ad from the Chicken McNuggets of Love campaign

Ad from the Chicken McNuggets of Love campaign

Ad from the Chicken McNuggets of Love campaign