- McDonald's collaborated with artist and streetwear influencer Kerwin Frost for a customized Happy Meal box that includes a McNugget Buddy collectible, which are returning for the first time in more than 25 years, per a press release.
- The Kerwin Frost Box will include one of six Buddies, each designed by the artist. The collaboration also includes merchandise, including vintage pieces from Frost's own archive and Fry Guy shoes inspired by one of the Buddies. The box and collection will launch on Dec. 11.
- The effort, which also includes a TV spot, social elements, AR and a gaming content tie-in is the fast-food giant's latest attempt to tap into nostalgia around the brand and follows last year's popular Cactus Plant Flea Market collaboration.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it: McDonald's is again returning to a well of childhood nostalgia around the brand, a tactic that has helped it engage with consumers, generate buzz and drive revenue growth.
The collaboration with Kerwin Frost, a multifaceted artist and DJ with influence in the worlds of fashion and music, allows McDonald's to engage with cutting-edge culture while nodding to millennial and Gen Z memories of its McNugget Buddy collectibles, which debuted in 1988 but have been dormant for a quarter century.
The Kerwin Frost Box, which includes either McNuggets or a Big Mac, fries and a soft drink alongside a collectible, is McDonald's latest attempt to reinvent Happy Meals for streetwear-minded adults. The chain last year teamed with cult label Cactus Plant Flea Market for a box that was so popular that it overwhelmed some stores.
"With last year's Cactus Plant Flea Market Box, we unlocked the childlike joy of opening a Happy Meal box for fans of all ages," said Tariq Hassan, McDonald's USA chief marketing and customer experience officer, in a statement. "Fans told us they wanted to celebrate that quintessential childhood experience again."
To boost the effort, McDonald's will also roll out several digital and social activations, per details shared with Marketing Dive. The Buddies will receive an Instagram handle (@mcnuggetbudds) and the brand will roll out an interactive AR lens on Snapchat that includes a Bitmoji integration. Plus, the Buddies will be part of a content hub on leading gaming site IGN.
In addition, the collaboration includes a forthcoming TV spot and a merchandise collection, de rigueur for this type of effort, especially considering Frost's fashion bona fides; the artist previously collaborated with Adidas. In a purpose-driven element, a portion of proceeds from Frost's merchandise line will support the Harlem Arts Alliance.
The new Buddies are inspired by Frost's childhood experiences and put a premium on self-expression. Complete with mix-and-match outfits, they include characters with identities described as the wise stylist, the neighborhood hero, the curious optimist, the cool guy and the dreamer. Childhood experiences were also central to McDonald's efforts around the birthday of brand mascot Grimace, one of the year's best campaigns and one that drove more than 3 billion views on TikTok and helped boost sales growth in the U.S.