- McDonald’s is reimagining its Happy Meals as a nostalgia item for adults through a collaboration with Cactus Plant Flea Market, per a news release.
- The cult streetwear label is putting its own spin on the Happy Meal box and collectible figurines featured therein. Each meal comes with one of several toys, including mascots Grimace, the Hamburglar, Birdie and a new Cactus Buddy character.
- The limited-edition meals are available Oct. 3 across McDonald’s sales channels, and other merchandise will be sold while supplies last starting the same day. The tie-up is the latest attempt by the Golden Arches chain to align its brand closer to cultural tastemakers that resonate with millennials and Gen Z.
McDonald’s wants its adult customers to feel like kids again and score merchandise created with a cult brand known for its secretiveness and scarcity. The partnership represents another instance of a mainstream marketer trying to capture streetwear hype, where limited drops send consumers scrambling to secure exclusive goods before they sell out.
"We're taking one of the most nostalgic McDonald's experiences and literally repackaging it in a new way that's hyper-relevant for our adult fans," said Tariq Hassan, McDonald's USA chief marketing and customer experience officer, in a press statement.
The trend aligns with a broader push from quick-service eateries to appear plugged into what’s shaping pop culture as traditional ads lose favor with young consumer groups. The campaign, which was done with agency Wieden + Kennedy NYC, features a TV spot going live Oct. 3 that depicts McDonaldland through a Cactus Plant Flea Market lens. Scannable augmented reality (AR) integrations with Snapchat also factor into the push.
Collectible figurines have become common in hypebeast circles, with offerings from names like Kaws and Medicom fetching luxury price tags at retail and even higher ones on the resale market. McDonald’s work with Cactus Plant Flea Market brings a similar concept to the Happy Meal menu bundles that have long come packaged with tie-in toy promotions. On the food front, the latest Happy Meals are focused on staples like the Big Mac, 10-piece Chicken McNuggets and fries.
Founded in 2015, Cactus Plant Flea Market maintains a relatively stealthy profile, but has worked with major companies and designers including Kanye West. Its other collaborations express an oddball exuberance that might appeal to consumers eager to tap into their inner child. A recent Dunk Low model with Nike was covered in green moss-like material that led many online watchers to compare the sneakers to Grinch feet.
The new McDonald’s Happy Meals carry the same quirky vibe, with child-like artwork decorating the boxes and figurines bearing multiple sets of eyes. Those who purchase the meals through the McDonald’s app are entered automatically for the chance to win free merchandise weekly, another indication that the fast food chain is relying more on mobile for sales growth. McDonald’s app played a central role in its marketing this summer through a month-long virtual camp experience featuring clothing drops, menu hacks and programming like livestreamed concerts.
McDonald’s and Cactus Plant Flea Market developed a broader line of co-branded products available in limited quantities starting Oct. 3 through a special website. The capsule collection encompasses T-shirts, hoodies and other collectibles with a nostalgia-tinged theme.