From the Travis Scott Burger to the famous Charlie Drink, 2020 was a year where social media influencers started taking over the fast food industry. How did it all go down? Let me walk you through it.
The Travis Scott burger took the world by storm. A very impressive accomplishment seeing as the burger was nothing special other than it was Travis Scott’s personal meal that he would get from McDonalds on the regular. The meal was a quarter pounder with cheese with bacon and lettuce, fries, a sprite and a side of bbq sauce. The special burger was released on September 8th of 2020 and was available until October 4th. McDonalds all around the country were unable to keep up with the demand for the burger. In fact, total sales for the company went up by a whole 5%. McDonalds is a company that is well aware of how to keep up with demand as they sell literally thousands of burgers every day. The fact that they were unable to keep up with the demand of this specific burger really says something about how popular it was. The burger was not anything special but made Travis Scott around 20 million in profit and sold out fast because people were obsessed with eating McDondals like Travis Scott does. At the time when the meal came out, Travis Scott was on top of the music world which made it the perfect time for this collaboration. The meal also blew up on Tik Tok with consumers blasting the song Sicko Mode by Travis Scott to employees in order to get a reaction out of them. This trend only continued to make the burger more popular.
Using the success of the Travis Scott Burger, McDonalds continued the trend by making the J Balvin Meal. J Balvin is a Columbian artist who rose to fame in 2020. The meal was again very simple consisting of a Big Mac without the pickles, fries with a side of ketchup and an Oreo Mcflurry. Although nowhere near as popular as the Travis Scott burger, the meal was a solid continuation of the fast food chain using influencers to sell their meals. Some people were concerned about using influencers to sell relatively unhealthy meals. Maria Scinto commented in an article that she wished the meals would have focused on having healthy options included with them. I personally agree with her, but keeping the meal exactly how the influencer ordered it was probably McDonalds number one priority. As a whole, both meals were a complete success and paved the way for other companies to do something similar.
What people may not know is that this was not McDonalds’ first time using influencers to market their food. They used micro influencers to promote their new buttermilk chicken fingers. 14 influencers were used to create 26 posts, with each post primarily showing the chicken fingers. The campaign was an all around success gaining 307k likes in total. Although different from the personalized meals, this influencer marketing tactic was also used to drive consumers to a specific product at the restaurant.
Around the same time as the Travis Scott Burger came out, Dunkin Donuts released a drink named after the famous Tik Tok star Charlie D’Amelio. The drink was appropriately named “The Charli” and consisted of cold brewed coffee with whole milk and three pumps of caramel. This drink took off on Tik Tok with members all over the country getting the drink and showing it off to their followers.
Youtube celebrities also got into the mix. Mr. Beast, a channel that became popular by giving out large amounts of money to strangers, opened up his own fast food chain with dozens of restaurants all over the county. He got the restaurants noticed on a national level by giving everyone free money and free food on the first day the chain opened. The chain is still a huge success and you can even get these burgers on delivery apps if you are in the right location.
So why was 2020 the year where this massive increase of influencer branded fast food occurred? I think we have COVID 19 to thank for this. People staying inside and consuming media like we have never seen before, gave the perfect opportunity for brands to try something new. Tik Tok also blew up over the last year giving opportunity for influencers to create a brand faster than ever before.
So will this stay a trend this year after COVID 19 gets more under control? I believe yes. If a company like McDonads who is already at the top of the fast food industry can see a 5% increase in sales by using this tactic, I think more brands will follow in the footsteps. Even after COVID is over, the tactics used during quarantine may still be here to stay. I for one think that is a good thing, but we will have to see how it all plays out.