So why can’t McDonald’s do the same thing with its own flop, the Arch Deluxe? Some self-deprecating humor in a marketing campaign would work perfectly. We all make dismal mistakes. Poking fun of the very thing you messed up is a pretty good way to rescue your (temporarily) botched reputation.


I used to keep a photo gallery of pizzas I dropped on the floor when I was working at a restaurant. When people saw these photos on Instagram, they found them even funnier than I did, especially guests. And guess what? People actually came to the restaurant because of those photos. I didn’t serve anyone pizzas I had dropped, but marketing-wise, they worked like a charm.

Here’s a free idea, McDonald’s: Couple a humorous marketing campaign with a limited-time re-release of the Arch Deluxe original recipe, and curious and/or nostalgic customers will at least buy one to give it a spin. Hey, if people are documenting themselves assembling Land, Air & Sea Burgers from McDonald’s silly “hacks” menu, then I think there’s a glimmer of hope for a rerelease of a famously misunderstood burger.


Plus, we’ve changed as consumers (ugh, consumers), at least somewhat. Back in 1996, List explains that “The average person... would rather just have a Big Mac or a Filet-O-Fish and french fries. They don’t want the fancy stuff.” But in the era of taking photos of everything we eat, maybe we’re ready for something a little fancier now. It might have been a sandwich ahead of its time.

In addition, our attitudes these days toward limited-time-only offers have changed a lot. We need a never-ending stream of them. They’re nearly a requirement for chain restaurants to stay relevant and get people’s attention. I taste this stuff multiple times a month with absolute glee, even if the products themselves turn out not to be any good. I know I’d give the Arch Deluxe another shot just because its limited-time-only status makes it feel like an event.


So, McDonald’s, the ball is in your court. You don’t need to engineer something new for your menu—just try bringing back something old in a self-aware way.

Call me if you need any other million-dollar ideas.