We no longer Understand What “I’m loving it,” Claims the CMO of McDonald’s: How the Company Appealed to Nostalgia to Regain its Cool


McDonald’s has been actively pursuing collaborations and partnerships to revamp its public image and reconnect with younger audiences. Over the past few years, the fast-food giant has teamed up with artists such as Cardi B and BTS, as well as streetwear brands Palace and Cactus Plant Flea Market. Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer, notes that the brand lost its connection with customers and sought to regain cultural relevance.

The effort includes campaigns like the “favorite orders” initiative, showcasing go-to orders from celebrities, and collaborations with streetwear brands to create limited-edition items and pop-up stores. Notably, the adult Happy Meal collaboration with Cactus Plant Flea Market, featuring a Big Mac or 10-piece Chicken McNuggets with a soda and fries, sold out quickly, with resellers listing the collectable figurines on eBay for thousands of dollars.

Hassan emphasizes the cultural shift these collaborations have brought to McDonald’s, creating a sense of urgency akin to the sneaker industry’s limited-edition drops. The strategy aims to make McDonald’s more relevant in contemporary culture and appeal to a younger demographic.

The company’s approach to collaborations reflects a departure from traditional promotions, adopting a model more aligned with the “shoe drop culture” seen in the fashion industry. McDonald’s success with these partnerships indicates a shift in the brand’s cultural presence and its ability to create buzz and demand through strategic collaborations.