Marketing Takeaways From McDonalds' BTS Meal Campaign

Emily Gouw
Digital Marketing Intern
July 12, 2021
min read
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Taking the marketing world by storm during May and June, McDonald’s launched the BTS Meal in 49 countries worldwide. The meal features 10 or 9 piece Chicken McNuggets (depending on which region you are in), Coke, Fries, and 2 special dipping sauces - Sweet Chili Sauce and Cajun. Whether or not you’re a fan of the kpop group, it is likely that you have heard about the McDonald’s BTS meal. 

While it may seem inevitable that an internationally famous boy band collaboration with a global fast food brand is bound to be a marketing success, here are four marketing takeaways that even small brands without the budget for engaging celebrities can learn from the campaign. 

Keep Your Target Audience in Mind

Targeting fans of the popular K-pop group, McDonald’s kept in mind the fans’ expectations and spoke in ‘their language’. The campaign’s strategy took after the K-pop community’s social media tactics and content styles including teasers and concert tour themed posts. For example, McDonald’s announced the release date of the BTS meal for each country in the style of concert tour dates on their Instagram in April, almost more than a month before the first release date in the US.

McDonald’s marketing strategy for the BTS Meal was very similar to promoting a new album release including the ‘tour dates’, band concept photos, and a McDonald’s x BTS merchandise drop.

Reaching out to fans through social media content that their target audience is familiar with is a great way to capture the attention of BTS’ fans and keep them engaged throughout the entire release. This is a great example of how McDonald’s kept their target audience at the forefront of their minds when coming up with a communication strategy to effectively reach the desired audience. For other brands, it serves as a great reminder to tailor your strategy to the audience you want to reach by keeping their needs, wants and communication styles in mind. 

Add Value to Existing Products

Instead of creating a product that would only appeal to BTS fans, McDonald’s added value to existing aspects such as their mobile application, food packaging, and existing menu options. For BTS fans, the BTS Meal was an experience encompassing in-app content that was rolled out over four weeks featuring BTS. Instead of the regular packaging, McDonald’s designed exclusive BTS packaging in the signature BTS purple for the meal. 

For non-fans, the BTS meal was attractive for the two limited edition McDonald’s sauces that came with the McNugget meal. Who wouldn’t be curious to find out what the limited edition sauce by McDonald’s tastes like?

By adding value to existing products, McDonald’s was able to engage fans while promoting existing menu items that everyone including non-BTS fans would be able to enjoy too. Instead of creating too much exclusivity and ignoring current customers, brands can think of ways to innovate or value-add to existing items in order to appeal to both the campaign’s target audience while keeping existing customers engaged too.

Strength of User Generated Content

While it may not have been part of McDonald’s strategy, the McDonald’s x BTS collaboration has shown the impact that user-generated content has on marketing. Many BTS fans all around the world tried to preserve the BTS Meal packaging. In fact, many people have tried to sell their cleaned BTS packaging on online selling platforms such as eBay, Carousell, and Shoppee. 

Globally, many have found creative ways to repurpose the BTS Meal packaging into innovative items that can be kept. Singaporean artist, @josiahchua, created custom BTS Meal sneakers using the packaging that even includes a pocket for nuggets.

Many fans also showcased their repurposed BTS Meal merchandise on Tiktok and Instagram, creating products such as keychains, earrings, resin coasters, and necklaces.

Many of these videos and pictures of repurposed packaging quickly gained attention on social media. @taegisupv’s TikTok video above of her BTS keychain has a total of 1.2M likes. These videos created by BTS fans also helped to market the meal and inspire other fans with ways that they can create their own BTS Meal packaging. For non-BTS fans who may previously have not been aware of the collaboration, the extensive hype over package reselling and repurposing was bound to have made them aware of the collaboration eventually.

Power of Influencer Marketing

The campaign successfully allowed McDonald’s to tap into BTS’ large fan following worldwide. Its success in generating buzz and gaining the attention of fans shows the power that influencer marketing holds.

The BTS Meal is actually the boyband’s ‘Famous Order’, their preferred McDonald’s order in South Korea. That is why the BTS Meal was a Chicken McNuggets meal instead of a new limited edition BTS burger. In fact, McDonald’s previously did a ‘Famous Order’ campaign within the United States featuring celebrities' favourite meal to order from the fast-food restaurant. 

The BTS meal created a feeling of authenticity from something ordinary - a McDonald’s meal. By allowing fans to know and try the band’s favourite order, it may have helped fans feel more connected to the band. The campaign’s authenticity factor built trust and interest in the meal.

While engaging with an influencer like BTS to endorse your product may be out of your brand’s budget, it’s possible for other brands to reach their target audience through authentic recommendations with influencer marketing

If you’re interested in engaging an influencer for your campaign but aren’t sure which influencer would be suitable for your brand, Affable’s influencer marketing platform helps brands find the right influencers for their campaign based on their follower demographics, budget, and more. 

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