On May 26th 2021, McDonald’s launched the BTS meal in select countries. The meal consist of 10 piece nuggets, medium fries and medium drink. Over all, nothing special about this meal and it’s usually a part of McD’s combo meals in the U.S. However what made this meal truly special are the Sweet Chili and Cajun sauces that are exclusive to South Korea and the purple BTS packaging. ARMY from all over the world have been anticipating the roll out since the collab was first announced. Photos of the sauce and packing popped up on social media for weeks. However on May 26th, ARMY’s in the U.S. were greeted by the surprise that the BTS meal would not come with the specially created packaging. What’s worse, is the U.S. is the only country in all of the 50 countries participating in the roll out that would not receive the packaging.
What we expected VS. What we got
Of course no one here in the states knew until they stood online or in drives thru waiting to receive their meal. Then to look in the bag and see the same brown, yellow, red and white packaging that you would see with any other McDonalds meal. It wasn’t until someone asked management about it. They were informed it was not included in the US rollout and it would be just the special bags. Some have reported there were locations that didn’t even put their BTS meal in the special bag. The reason, because they didn’t want to open the new boxes of supplies just for those bag when they already had boxes of regular bags opened.
McDonald’s was started in the U.S. in 1955 and has been a globally recognized brand since they opened their first oversees location in Canada and Puerto Rico in 1967. So it was within reason to expect McDonald’s would do better by their U.S. customer base, right?!
Below is a video from Korea Now about their experience at McDonalds’s in South Korea.
Business Is Business
McDonald’s expanded their hold on the fast food market by opening their first East Asian locations in Japan in 1971, then in South Korea in 1988 during the Summer Olympics and China in 1992. Often times countries are welcoming to new brands that they have only experienced in their travels or only in entertainment, like movies. For most global brands the goal is always to grow and increase their business. This can be done in many ways. With some industries you first find ways to integrate your brand to into other countries. Usually you’ll see endorsement deals using celebrities to market their items. Recently, collabs have been the tool to lure new customers into restaurants, try new soft drinks, buy an expensive pair of sneakers or even purchase a new car.
In the almost 8 years that BTS has been on the scene, they have had endorsement deals with Olive BBQ, Baskin and Robbins, Samsung, Fila, Hyundai and most recently, luxury brand Louis Vuitton. All of these companies know that one word from these 7 men and the spotlight on their brand is stronger than ever. So it makes sense that McDonald’s wanted in on that spotlight. With the right research and marketing team, a plan on how to draw in more customers, especially those that follow and support an artist should be relatively easy. It’s clear the marketing team knew how to promote the BTS meal; purple packaging alone sealed the deal for ARMY. With all that thought behind packaging and marketing, who made the decision at McDonald’s headquarters that the over 14,000 U.S locations would not carry the coveted purple branded packaging.
As of May 27th, McDonald’s has still not put out a statement with an explanation. They have however twitted that you could find special VR activities on their app and a photobook, again via the app within the next few weeks. They also promoted the BTSxMcDonald’s merch that was being sold on HYBE artist platform, Weverse.
Clearly with U.S. ARMY’s displeased, it’s business as usual, which makes me think that McD’s goal was just to grow their international market. And I get it, business is business, but for some that packaging was a badge of honor. It was a way to say I went out and supported my favorite artist. It’s a way to commemorate and celebrate seeing BTS achieve global recognition. Many fans do not have the $9.19 for merch socks or the more costly $91.97 for the exclusive robe sold on Weverse. Some took whatever bit of money they had just to buy the meal. So the least McDonald’s could have done was to make the packaging available at all locations globally.
Here are a few ways some ARMY’s made creative use of the BTS meal packaging
Have Businesses not learned: DON”T MESS WITH ARMY!!!!!
Without question ARMY IS LOYAL!!!! What McDonald’s was selling wasn’t nuggets and fries, they sell that every damn day, 365 days a year. What they were selling was a brand, that brand being BTS. They knew that by the mere mention of a collab with BTS restaurant sales would skyrocket with very little effort. Clearly the marketing team for McD’s did their research. The concept for not only the packaging but the VR experience and the merch collab with Weverse was top tier! It is on the same level of what is expected with anything BTS and Big Hit releases. And if they really did their research, McD’s would know that just as fast as ARMY would sell out a product, they are just as fast to cancel a company for being disrespectful, inconsiderate and using them or BTS .
Within one hour of the first sale of the BTS Meal in the U.S, around 10:30AM EDT, it was on social media that the only packaging available in U.S. locations was the bag. By noon “No BTS” was trending on Twiiter and ARMY and non ARMY alike were posting their disappointment, but also questioning why McDonald’s made such a decision. By mid afternoon media outlets, like the L.A. Times, started writing stories as to the collective disappointment of U.S. fans in the roll out of the BTS Meal. What’s in the BTS Meal at McDonald’s? Some disappointment – Los Angeles Times (latimes.com).
However, in true ARMY fashion, by the time the collaboration merch went on sale at 7:00pm EDT, within hours most of the merch sold out. Even with being disappointed in how McD’s handled the rollout in the U.S, globally ARMY was happy and would support the boys regardless.
Here are some examples of the merch available on the Global Weverse Shop site
What I’ve Learned…
I have learned a few things with this collaboration. First, both parties should benefit from the collab. In this case McDonald’s absolutely benefitted greatly from the roll out of the BTS Meal. This is not their first collab. They did one in 2020 with Travis Scott only in the U.S. and they had problems then with locations running out of product because it was so successful. However, that was just stateside, this meal was global and sold knowing that BTS has an automatic global fan base that would go thru hell and high water to support. This is just week one; the BTS meal is scheduled to roll out in 50 countries, ending June 20th. Within that time they will have app exclusive content, which means you have to download the McDonalds app and register just to see the content. In a matter of 30 days McDonald’s will grow their app usage by millions.
Second, I learned that ARMY has a strong voice and if we continue to expect better from these companies they better start listening. The loyalty of fanbases is what draw people who would not normally patronize a particular brand to show up in support. Why? Because it makes their favorite artist look good. It is our way of asking companies and brands to believe in the power of our artist the way we believe in them.
At this point I’m sure McDonald’s gets the point that they may have screwed up royally, Hopefully by the time the meal concludes they will add the packaging to the U.S. stores, However more companies better take notice that as long as you want BTS to be your ambassadors they come as a team and that other team is ARMY!! The “A” may stand for ADORABLE, but not when you mess with us!!
Until next time…….