McDonald’s and Travis Scott made tons of money off each other [Updated]

Travis Scott eating McDonald's fries in front of a sign advertising his new combo meal
Travis Scott enjoying his eponymous combo meal
Photo: Jerritt Clark, Courtesy of McDonald’s (Fair Use)

Update: December 2, 2020: It really was a match made in marketing heaven. Forbes published an article this week titled, “How Hip-Hop Superstar Travis Scott Has Become Corporate America’s Brand Whisperer,” and it’s a fascinating deep dive on how Scott is changing the way celebrities and companies do business together. Within the story are some staggering statistics surrounding the McDonald’s Travis Scott Meal (hat-tip to Business Insider for distilling some of the takeaways from the Forbes article as well). In short, Scott is $20 million richer as a result of the partnership. Per Forbes:

McDonald’s debuted the meal in September, and its U.S. same-store sales, a key indicator of a restaurant company’s health, swung from an 8.7% drop in the second quarter, at the height of virus lockdowns, to a 4.6% gain in the third, due at least in part to the Scott Meal. Forbes estimates Scott earned at least $5 million from the traditional endorsement part of the deal and another $15 million from merchandise sales, collecting on the deal for the merch rights that he worked out for himself.

Advertisement

This would already be an impressive feat, to say the least, but as Business Insider points out, it’s not as though the success was driven by a delicious new menu item or other fast food innovation—the Travis Scott Meal was an assemblage of existing McDonald’s offerings, most notably swapping in BBQ Sauce for ketchup to pair with the fries. Of course, it’s the merch that drove the heftiest profits, and a lot of it didn’t come cheap. All in all, given the runaway success of this meal, McDonald’s will surely see to it that it’s never without a celebrity meal ever again. 

Original post, September 17, 2020: We mentioned earlier this week that Travis Scott is a hugely influential celebrity, as illustrated by the fact that McDonald’s has partnered with the rapper/producer on its first celebrity meal since the McJordan Special of 1992. Fans are swarming their local McDonald’s to try the Travis Scott meal (aka the Cactus Jack special), which costs $6 and comes with a Sprite, fries with barbecue sauce for dipping, and a Quarter Pounder with cheese, shredded lettuce, and bacon. In at least one case, that swarming was literal: Scott was reportedly fined $200 when a recent promotional stop at a McDonald’s in Downey, California, drew a crowd of hundreds without the proper permits. But now, according to CNBC, only a week into the Travis Scott meal promotion, McDonald’s is experiencing shortages at several locations thanks to the combo’s popularity.

“We’re working closely with our suppliers, distributors and franchisees to resupply impacted restaurants as quickly as possible,” a McDonald’s spokesperson told CNBC. That means McDonald’s will temporarily control supplies of beef, onions, lettuce, and bacon so that as many locations as possible have the ingredients they need to make the combo meal. “Stay tuned and don’t worry, we’ve got more surprises from Cactus Jack coming soon.”

Typically, individual locations place orders with McDonald’s to restock whatever they’re running low on; right now, to avoid any lasting shortages, McDonald’s is only sending out a limited amount of certain ingredients so that impacted locations don’t have to remain sold out of Travis Scott supplies for too long. Imagine being so big that you bring a global fast food institution to the brink of minor peril.

If you’re not able to get the Quarter Pounder of your dreams right now, there are plenty of other ways to show your love for both Travis Scott and the golden arches.

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

DISCUSSION

As I’ve had proven by someone else’s comment, all the popularity of this meal tells me is that people can’t think for themselves. That most people never thought of just adding bacon or lettuce to a 1/4 lb-er, which is literally the only unique part of this meal.

Which of course is inferior to the true best order: a 1/4 lb-er, no ketchup or mustard, add lettuce and Mac sauce