Your favorite celebrities are championing fast food corporations

I’ve noticed a rise of celebrities partnering with fast food chains in the past year. It feels…exploitative? Calculated and manipulative for sure. After doing some research I found that the first celebrity partnership with a fast food chain occurred in 1992, when Mcdonalds partnered with Michael Jordan to release the McJordan meal. It was released exclusively across the Chicagoland area as Mcdonalds was capitalizing on Jordan’s star power radiating from the Chicago Bulls. The McJordan’s exclusivity has even seemed to prosper over the years given the auction in 2012, in which a man purchased the McJordan bbq sauce for almost $10,000 as reported by Popculture

McDonald’s partnering with Travis Scott marked the second time a collaboration of this capacity happened and a celebrity had a meal named after them. It was so popular and in such high demand that it caused ingredient shortages for the company worldwide as reported on by CNBC. He is a well known musician with a massive following. Partnered with arguably the most widely known fast food chain, it was a brand deal that made a lot of sense.

And of course, it has been hard to miss chains such as Dunkin and Popeyes adopting the same strategy in the past year as well. Dunkin in particular collaborated with the Tiktok mega-star Charli D’Amelio in late 2020 to release “The Charli cold foam”. Popeyes opted to partner with rapper, Megan Thee Stallion to release a special new sauce as well as new merchandise. McDonald’s recently partnered with the Korean pop group, BTS to release a limited edition meal and special packaging. Then they immediately announced their collaboration with the rapper, Saweetie. And just two weeks ago they shared their “Mariah Menu” no doubt with the intention of sharing her recognition during the holiday season. 

What is the deal with celebrities partnering with fast food chains? And why is it suddenly on the rise again? 

According to Joan Ifland, founder of Food Addiction Reset, companies using big names to promote their products allows customers to “trust” in the product more. The companies cash in on the association the consumer already has for the person endorsing said product as reported on by Mashed

All are heavily promoted on social media, the target of consumers being people who are fans of the celebrities. The partnerships rely on the devoted fan bases to reach a demographic they might have even had before. It is about association and manipulating the public into buying something simply because the company slapped their favorite celebrity’s name on it. It’s a very impressive strategy, I’m surprised it didn’t resurface sooner after the initial McJordan meal in ‘92. I don’t see this going away anytime soon, especially with the way companies can urge the celebrities who they partnered with to post about them online. It gives them a direct voice to the consumers they want, being endorsed by the celebrity rather than the companies promoting themselves. All of it is intriguing but eerily manipulative. 

5 Comments

  1. Evan Yazzolino says:

    Hey Sofia! I found this blog super interesting. It seems wherever you look there is another advertisement of a celebrity endorsing a food product. I agree with how you say it is very manipulative because it is coaxing the “die-hard” fans to support their favorite celebrities. It makes me wonder what other kinds of promotions companies are going to attempt next in order to increase their sales. It’s also really interesting to think about how far celebrities will go in advertising products and what kind of implications could arise. Overall, I really enjoyed this piece.

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  2. ahnnawyckoff says:

    This was a really interesting post! I too have noticed a ton of celebrities partnering with fast food chains lately. I’m surprised the rise in these collaborations didn’t start sooner as well. It does make a lot of sense for companies to want to partner with big celebrities with loyal fan bases, but I agree it’s a little manipulative and almost out of place to me.

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  3. katreed5 says:

    As a fast-food lover, I found this post to be very intriguing. I find it very interesting that fast food franchises have been partnering with celebrities and creating meals based around that certain celebrity. It seems to be working quite well for not only fast-food franchise but for the celebrities as well. I gasped out loud when I read the part about someone purchasing the McJordan bbq sauce for $10,000. That is insanity! Thanks for sharing your findings and your thoughts!”

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  4. I thought this post was super interesting! I’ve taken notice of the rise in fast-food brands and celebrity collaborations recently and have even gotten some I’ll admit! But I agree that it’s interesting how powerful celebrity endorsements are and how knowledgeable brands are about that. I was starting to think that celebrity endorsements weren’t as powerful as before but this definitely shows otherwise. Great job!

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  5. Amanda James says:

    Hey Sofia! Loved this post. It was really interesting as I have noticed that a lot of fast food companies are collaborating with celebs right now (Travis Scoot, saweetie, etc) and this wasn’t really popular when we were growing up. It is definitely attracting a different customer base for these companies because its not just people coming for the celebs meal, there’s videos of it going viral on the interest, further adverting the company and the celeb which is what they both want.

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