Travis Scott, J Balvin, McDonald’s and The Power Of Smart Music Marketing
From Travis Scott’s special Cactus Jack Meal to a partnership with reggaton star J Blavin, fast food giant McDonald’s is successfully using music to drive its brand forward.
By Laura Veras, Associate at CAD Management
Over the past few months, we have seen a great display of innovative marketing strategies coming from some of the top consumer brands in the U.S. During this time of quarantine culture, one company that has stood above the rest in terms of marketing is McDonald’s.
The brand has found success at the intersection of music in turn driving its global marketing tactics. This commitment to integrating music within the brand results in one of the clearest returns on investments to date from any entertainment marketing case study; A boost in sales for McDonald’s and streams for Travis Scott.
It seems as though music has always been at the forefront of McDonald’s. Back in 2014, McDonald’s Sweden partnered with Soundtrack Your Brand to “establish a platform and a strategy for their in-store music.” Early on, McDonald’s took notice of the importance and impact of music and has used sonic branding as a key driver to build its one of a kind customer experience strategy.
Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack Meal
Fast forward to 2020, Lizette Williams, Head of Cultural Engagement and Experiences at McDonald’s, and team trailblaze the industry by creating one of the most memorable brand activations of the year: The Cactus Jack Meal. A collaboration with McDonald’s and Travis Scott which launched on September 8, 2020. The meal consists of a Quarter Pounder with cheese, bacon and lettuce, a Sprite, and fries with BBQ sauce – supposedly Scott’s go-to order. Selling for $6, the meal not only drove chaos among fans but a shortage of ingredients for McDonald’s and an uptick in both collaborator’s key performance indicators.
“We’ve created a program that’s so compelling to our customers that it’s stretching our world-class supply chain; and if demand continues at these levels, more restaurants will break supply,” McDonald’s said in a memo to employees, according to USA Today.
Moreover, CNN reported that McDonald’s saw an increase in sales by 4.6% in the three month period leading up to September 30 compared to the same time period in 2019. An infographic on the company’s website said the Travis Scott promotion and its Spicy Chicken McNuggets, also introduced in September, were carefully considered marketing investments that ultimately contributed to a surge in sales.
“Our third-quarter performance demonstrates the underlying resilience of the McDonald’s brand,” Chief Executive Chris Kempczinski said in a statement. “Our unique strengths, including our unrivaled Drive-Thru presence around the world, advanced delivery, and digital capabilities, and marketing scale have become even more important during the pandemic.
#1 For “Francise”
For artist Travis Scott, the frenzy behind this brand activation undoubtedly helped him acquire his fourth #1 on the Billboard Charts with the song “Franchise” featuring M.I.A and Young Thug released 17 days after the collaboration with McDonald’s launched. With the song only being 2 weeks old, it has amassed over 34 million streams on Spotify alone. Scott has become the first artist in history to debut three consecutive songs at No. 1 on the Hot 100 within a year.
While the promotion with Scott ended October 4, McDonald’s recently announced another deal with reggaeton artist J Balvin. The partnership will mimic that of Scott, having Balvin promote his favorite meal – a Big Mac, fries and ketchup, and an Oreo McFlurry.
McDonald’s decision to collaborate with Latin star J Balvin, originally from Colombia, is not only a trendy marketing decision but a strategic business strategy for the fast-food chain’s global sales. This restaurant chain does well in Latin territories, as the largest Latin American economy – Brazil – is also home to the highest number of McDonald’s restaurants. Statistics indicate that in 2017 McDonald’s led the burger restaurant market by holding nearly 26 percent of shares in Colombia with only 80 restaurants in the country.
Scott’s meal was based on his personal favorites off the McDonald’s menu, even more so the meal he purchased growing up in Houston. Why did J Balvin go for the Big Mac? While it may partly be attributed to his love for the two beef patty sandwiches, McDonald’s had to be especially considerate and strategic of Bavlin’s meal due to his unique and strong international demographic. While we know the McDonald’s menu varies depending on the region, the Big Mac is one of the few menu items sold in almost every country. Its reputation across countries grew so much so that in 1986, the Big Mac index was invented by The Economist as a lighthearted guide to whether currencies are at their “correct” level. McDonald’s global outlook on music marketing is a testament to just how powerful music and an artist’s brand can be in moving financial needles for even the largest of corporations.