Cannes Lions

McDonald's x Cactus Plant Flea Market Collab

STARCOM, Chicago / MCDONALD'S / 2023

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McDonald’s is a brand that needs no introduction. However, its ubiquity and familiarity had left it well-known but not well-loved. By 2020, the business had seen 5-straight years of decline among multicultural (MC) young adults - the future of not just QSRs, but of America itself. It wasn’t that this generation disliked McDonald’s, it was that they were indifferent, which might be worse.

We knew this group loved Happy Meals as kids, but they’d moved on to coveting other limited-edition things. To reignite their love for the brand, we needed to turn a visit to McDonald’s into a cultural event A campaign young adults would talk about and flock to - including those who hadn’t been there for a while.

Our objectives included:

• Driving immediate sales with young adults, specifically 18-24 year old MC Youth. And doing it profitably.

• Growing penetration and driving brand fame


Our strategy was to Make the Inaccessible Accessible.

We paired one of the most in-demand, limited-edition streetwear brands, Cactus Plant Flea Market (CPFM), with McDonald’s to create a never-been-done-before Adult Happy Meal and toy.

To build hype, we tapped into the subculture of exclusive drops, customizing each media experience to connect with MC Youth while showing “we get” the CPFM streetwear space.

• Emulating drop culture with its key connection points at the center of our plan: Social, Streaming Audio, and Video

• Leaning into the context of the artist

• Focusing heavily on the tease-launch phase to drive cultural relevance

We also introduced an integrated audience strategy to connect with MC Youth 18-24:

• Targeting trendsetters to grow penetration, bringing in new consumers

• Targeting known customers to drive re-engagement and brand love

And, we strategically combined this with the use of high-volume proven channels to generate strong awareness.


Making the inaccessible accessible fueled our media execution:

HYPE: For 5 days we built pre-buzz and anticipation, educating consumers about the CPFM collab within social & audio platforms. Through diverse-owned partners and properties like Blavity and Canela, we let MC Youth know they could access the CPFM drop with a simple trip to their local McDonald’s.

ANNOUNCE: On launch day 9/27, we released our CPFM collab within social, hyping up both CPFM and McDonald’s fans. Cultural and widespread media outreach also drove hype. We surprised and delighted our fans with an Augmented Reality activated Snap experience on our CPFM Box that brought our collectibles to life.

BUILD: Post-launch the campaign was set to continue building engagement and demand, primarily via a paid social/owned media play. However, with the success of the first 2 phases, the CPFM box started selling out within the first few days, drastically exceeding business projections.


We elevated a trip to McDonald’s into a one-of-a-kind opportunity, ensuring more fans could get their hands on a piece of culture than ever before.

We drove strong sales and did so profitably:

● $80M in sales

● Record ROMI: >3X the projected amount

● Highest weekly digital transactions ever seen in the U.S.

● 50% of figurines sold out in first four days

We saw unprecedented penetration growth among young adults:

● +4.1% penetration for 18-24 year old’s YOY

We created a cultural event and drove brand fame.

● Media coverage was widespread across cultural outlets like Hypebeast and Complex, finance outlets like Axios and CNBC, and mainstream outlets like Today Show and GMA. SNL even did a skit.

● Fans scoured stores to collect all 4 figurines, sharing tips with friends. They covered social with art, memes, and joyful reactions to opening the box.

● 1B social impressions

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