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Looking back at a year of celebrity/restaurant brand tie-ups

Undeniably, restaurant brands, especially quick-service brands, have gained plenty of momentum from attaching a celebrity to a promotion. And we don’t mean just hiring a celebrity to star in a commercial, but partnering with them for meal curation and creation, merch launches, name it.

Such partnerships are certainly not new – McD’s launched a McJordan special with Michael Jordan in the early 1980s, for instance, while KFC featured a bevy of celebrity Colonels prior to the pandemic. But – at least from our vantage point – they’re certainly accelerating and there could be a few explanations for this. First and most obvious, it’s proven successful as evidenced by McDonald’s launch of its celebrity meals in 2020 with hip hop artist Travis Scott. That meal led to a shortage of the chain’s signature quarter pounders and generated huge traffic upticks at the brand, which has since launched a cadence of follow up celebrity meals featuring everyone from J Balvin to BTS to Cardi B and Offset.

These celebrity attachments worked in a way that specifically resonated with the coveted Gen Z demographic, who gravitate toward influencer content, and so we’ve seen a bevy of similar campaigns at several brands since. Here is a look at some of these campaigns from 2023.

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