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McDonald's Partners with Reggaeton's J Balvin for Another Celebrity-Branded Meal

After the massive viral success of the Travis Scott Meal, McDonald’s rolls out the J Balvin Meal to continue appealing to young, media-savvy consumers.

Image from McDonald’s Corporation via PRNewsfoto.

McDonald's has added a new menu item, the J Balvin Meal, which is named after the popular reggaeton musician and features a Big Mac, medium fries with ketchup and an Oreo McFlurry. It will be available from Oct. 5 through Nov. 1, according to a press release.

It looks like McDonald's is hoping that lightning strikes twice with J Balvin's meal after the brand’s meal partnership with rapper Travis Scott — whose new hit song is named “FRANCHISE”, coincidently — proved so successful that the fast-food chain found itself facing a Quarter Pounder shortage last month. The viral meal inspired a TikTok trend where diners play the rapper's song "Sicko Mode" at the drive-thru to order the meal instead of asking for it verbally. In response, McDonald's even sent a memo to franchisees to make them aware of common catchphrases used for the video trend, such as "Cactus Jack sent me" and "It's lit, sicko mode" to accommodate customers engaging with the meme. 

The Scott meal was the first menu item named after a celebrity since 1992's McJordan, named in honor of basketball star Michael Jordan. Balvin's meal is reportedly one the singer orders regularly while on tour, per the press release.

These musician-themed promotions, which do not feature any new items, are creating tangible results at a time when foot traffic has been curtailed due to the pandemic. During Q2, McDonald's sales dropped 30%, although sales in the U.S. had begun to regain momentum by the end of the quarter in July.

The chain's drive-thru, digital and delivery businesses have been bright spots during the health crisis, with limited-edition meals tied to popular musicians giving the chain a way to target young, digitally savvy consumers known to have a penchant for delivery. Older franchisors like McDonald’s work with young celebrities in part because they often have far more influence than brands themselves, especially on social media platforms. Plus, added incentives connected to the branded meals also encourage consumers to use the company's app, which boosts loyalty.

Beyond the convenience of ordering themed meals, these collaborations also have the potential to help McDonald's boost its image as an authentic and inclusive brand, something it has struggled with amid reports of discrimination by franchisees and the former CEO’s sexual misconduct lawsuits.

McDonald's joins other brands in embracing partnerships with music artists and social media stars. Dunkin has a new partnership with Charli D’Amelio, TikTok’s most-followed star, which includes her own branded drink — a cold brew with whole milk and three pumps of caramel swirl named The Charli. Since launching on Sept. 2, the brand has seen a 57% increase in app downloads. Dunkin’ also saw a 20% sales boost for all cold brews the day the drink debuted, and a 45% surge the next day.

The virtual restaurant chain, Denver-based Nextbite, recently announced plans to partner with Wiz Khalifa for HotBox by Wiz. Veteran restaurateur Robert Ear is planning a virtual concept called Tyga Bites, named after the Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist. Chipotle Mexican Grill has also offered pre-built meals by cultural influencers such as social media star David Dobrik

While celebrity endorsements are nothing new, it appears that the foodservice industry as a whole is looking to reignite this trend to appeal to younger consumers and boost revenue in a post-COVID world.