McDonald’s is repackaging Happy Meals for adults with a cult streetwear label

Diving brief:

  • McDonald’s is reimagining its Happy Meals as an adult nostalgia item through a collaboration with Cactus Plant Flea Market, according to a press release.
  • The cult streetwear brand is revisiting the Happy Meal box and the collectible figurines it contains. Each meal comes with one of many toys, including Grimace mascots, the Hamburglar, Birdie and a new Cactus Buddy character.
  • The limited-edition meals are available October 3 through McDonald’s retail channels, and other merchandise will be sold while supplies last starting the same day. The tie-up is the Golden Arches chain’s latest attempt to align its brand closer to cultural tastemakers that resonate with Millennials and Gen Z.

Overview of the dive:

McDonald’s wants its adult customers to feel like kids again and buy products created with a cult brand known for its secrecy and rarity. The partnership represents another example of a consumer marketer trying to capture the hype of streetwear, where limited drops send consumers rushing to get exclusive products before they sell out.

“We’re taking one of the most nostalgic McDonald’s experiences and literally repackaging it in a new way that’s hyper-relevant to our adult fans,” Tariq Hassan, director of marketing and customer experience for McDonald’s USA, said in A press release.

The trend aligns with a broader push for quick service restaurants to appear hip to what’s shaping pop culture as traditional ads fall out of favor with younger consumer groups. The campaign, which was produced with agency Wieden + Kennedy NYC, includes a TV spot uploaded October 3 that depicts McDonaldland through the lens of the Cactus Plant flea market. Scannable augmented reality (AR) integrations with Snapchat are also considered.

Happy Meals designed by Cactus Plant Flea Market invoke childhood nostalgia.

Retrieved from McDonald’s USA on September 27, 2022

Collectible figures have become mainstream in hypebeast circles, with offerings from names like Kaws and Medicom fetching luxury prices at retail and even higher in the resale market. McDonald’s work with Cactus Plant Flea Market brings a similar concept to Happy Meal menu sets that have long been packaged with related toy promotions. Food-wise, the latest Happy Meals focus on staples like the Big Mac, 10-piece Chicken McNuggets and French fries.

Founded in 2015, Cactus Plant Flea Market maintains a relatively low profile, but has worked with major companies and designers, including Kanye West. His other collaborations express an eccentric exuberance that might appeal to consumers eager to tap into their inner child. A recent Dunk Low model with Nike was covered in a green moss-like material that led many online observers to compare the sneakers to Grinch feet.

McDonald’s new Happy Meals have the same quirky vibe, with childish illustrations decorating the boxes and figurines wearing multiple sets of eyes. Those who purchase meals through the McDonald’s app are automatically entered for a chance to win free merchandise each week, another indication that the fast-food chain is relying more on mobile for sales growth. The McDonald’s app played a pivotal role in marketing it this summer with a month-long virtual camp experience featuring clothing scraps, menu hacks and programs like live concerts.

McDonald’s and Cactus Plant Flea Market have developed a wider range of co-branded products available in limited quantities from October 3 through a special website. The capsule collection includes t-shirts, hoodies, and other collectibles with a nostalgia-tinged theme.

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