During my childhood years, my family’s kitchen cabinets used to be lousy with the sorts of commemorative glassware you’d get at Burger King or McDonald’s — a Luke Skywalker here, a Snoopy there. These were part of huge global marketing pushes for creative projects being milked for every last ounce of intellectual property, but also savvy positioning by the restaurants. Fast-food companies have long attempted to stave off disposability by piggybacking on broader cultural moments, hoping to extend their reach beyond the comestible into the permanently tangible.
In 2020, a fast-food chain looking for equivalent big-tent cultural relevance has few more compelling places to turn than hip-hop, the cultural arena with the most natural and ambitious gift for merchandising. And in hip-hop, there are fewer more ambitious personal branders than Travis Scott, who has his own festival, several Nike collaborations, a cereal, a Hot Wheels and much more to his name.
That said, the collaboration between McDonald’s and Scott, which began this week and includes a range of merchandise and a limited-edition meal, initially seems preposterous — what does McDonald’s know about the right singing-to-rapping ratio? What does Scott know about the right salt-to-fry ratio?