- McDonald's has teamed with esports and entertainment giant FaZe Clan in what the companies billed as "one of gaming's biggest QSR partnerships to date," per an announcement.
- Together, the two will produce dynamic content focused on diversity and inclusion in gaming, including the stories of individual FaZe Clan members. An announcement video FaZe Clan posted to Twitter features creators FaZe Rug, FaZe Adapt, FaZe Swagg and the group Nuke Squad welcoming McDonald's into their family.
- More aspects of the partnership will be revealed throughout the year as McDonald's builds out a stronger footprint in a gaming space competitors are also eyeing closely. Moreover, the chain is increasingly leaning into celebrities and social influencers as a means to generate sales and connect with young audiences.
McDonald's looks to deepen its ties to the gaming community through the partnership with FaZe Clan, one of the most prominent organizations in the red-hot category. Founded in 2010, Faze Clan started as a small group of Call of Duty players posting clips to YouTube but has expanded to encompass streaming, content creation, merchandising and more, as reported in Sports Illustrated. Members of the collective last month graced the magazine's first esports-themed cover, a sign that the gaming and traditional sports worlds continue to converge.
Growing mainstream recognition of organizations like FaZe Clan has been apparent in marketing as well. General Mills brand Totino's late last month debuted a content series with FaZe Clan hosted by the rapper Lil Yachty, an honorary member of the cohort operating under the name "FaZe Boat."
Several quick-service competitors to McDonald's are also trying to stake out a larger claim in the gaming space as people spend more time playing or watching others do so on platforms like Twitch and YouTube. Gaming generally has benefited from the coronavirus pandemic, which has kept more consumers cooped up indoors. Wendy's, the No. 2 burger chain in the U.S., operates a Twitch page for gaming. It has more than 110,000 followers, putting it in the 1% of overall streamers on the Amazon-owned service.
McDonald's is attempting to position the FaZe Clan tie-up around brand purpose, with a spotlight on diversity and inclusion (D&I). Gaming has been notorious for toxic fan communities that spread hate online, which is one of the reasons marketers initially expressed some trepidation about buying in. Major game developers are also increasingly under fire for harassment and labor issues.
The FaZe Clan news comes as McDonald's is also trying to make improvements on the D&I front. In May, it said it would more than double investments in diverse media partners as part of a new plan to improve representation. The announcement arrived the same day as a lawsuit alleging a pattern of racial stereotyping at the company.
On the business end, partnerships with artists and social media influencers continue to be a successful strategy for McDonald's. A collaboration with BTS earlier this summer centered around the K-pop group's preferred meal order helped bolster sales, the company said when reporting its second-quarter earnings last week. McDonald's is currently running a similar promotion with the rapper Saweetie.