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BTS meets the Golden Arches: McDonald’s unveils a new meal inspired by the K-pop superstars

First it was Travis Scott. Then J Balvin. Now McDonald’s is going global with BTS.

BTS meets the Golden Arches: McDonald’s unveils a new meal inspired by the K-pop superstars
J-Hope, Suga, V, Jimin, Jin, Jungkook, RM of BTS. [Photo: Big Hit Entertainment/AMA2020/Getty Images]
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Is it any real surprise? After the unmitigated U.S. success of its celebrity meal partnerships with Travis Scott and J Balvin, McDonald’s is now going global with one of the planet’s most popular groups.

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Today, the fast-feeder announced that it’s teaming up with Korean pop superstars BTS for its newest “signature” meal. This one, which debuts on May 26, will feature a 10-piece McNuggets, medium fries, medium Coke, and, for the first time ever in the U.S., Sweet Chili and Cajun dipping sauces adapted from popular dips at McDonald’s South Korea. The meal is said to be the group’s order of choice.

@mcdonalds

coming this May: #TheBTSMeal

♬ BTS x McD Ba Da Ba Ba Ba – McDonald’s⁷

The meal will initially launch in the U.S., Canada, and Brazil, before rolling out concert-tour-style to about 47 other countries spanning six continents between May 27 and June 25. This is the first time McDonald’s is adding something even remotely new to its menu for one of its celebrity-styled meals. While both the J Balvin and Travis Scott meals were made up of existing McDonald’s products, the dipping sauces for the BTS edition were previously only available in South Korea.

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While there were no specific details, McDonald’s did hint at “more surprises in the coming weeks” around this collaboration. Could we be in for BTS x Golden Arches streetwear? The brand’s merchandise collab of more than 100 items with Travis Scott was wildly popular with collectors and resellers.

It’s also the first time McDonald’s will be tapping a true global phenomenon. BTS fans, known as the ARMY, are legion, with more than 48 million subscribers to the YouTube channel, 40 million Instagram followers, and about 30 million Twitter followers. They’ve exhibited their collective power and influence in a number of creative ways, such as taking over anti-Black hashtags and matching the band’s $1 million donation in support of Black Lives Matter.

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For McDonald’s, it’s the latest incarnation of a broader brand strategy it unveiled last fall. Called “Accelerating the Arches,” one of its main pillars is to maximize marketing by “investing in new, culturally relevant approaches.” Back then, McDonald’s U.S. chief marketing officer Morgan Flatley told me that over the past few years, the company’s marketing tended to be transactional. “It’s like a quick hit and then you’re done, versus building an intense fandom and loyalty that exists with a lot of the most loved brands in the world,” Flatley said. “McDonald’s is one of the biggest and iconic, but I think our challenge now is to make it one of the most loved brands in the world.”

With this high-profile pitch to perhaps the most fervent fanbase on the planet, the Golden Arches is setting the stage for a record-setting, monster hit of a meal.

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity.

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