Cannes Lions

Szechuan Returns

McDONALD'S, Oak Brook / MCDONALD'S / 2018


1 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Since thousands of fans had signed petitions demanding the sauce's return, we wanted to put the ownership into their hands to bring it back.

Before the show's season premiere, we teased fans on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit with what we had planned that night: a two-hour long Periscope livestream in which their engagement would "bring back" the sauce to present day. At the end of the livestream, three of the fans who engaged with us were surprised with a bottle of sauce.

By allowing them to feel like they had pushed a global brand to bring back a product, we empowered them.

But we weren't done yet. As conversation grew about the sauce's return, we planned a mass-distribution in restaurants to bring back limited quantities of sauce to thousands of additional people. And in one day, we released it across the country along with posters to commemorate the moment.


We began by building an organic relationship with the show's co-creator and the voice of both "Rick" and "Morty," Justin Roiland, by sending him a personal jug of sauce.

With the seed planted, we looked to social listening to define the platforms where the most viable audiences lived: Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook.

On the day of the show's season premiere, we teased fans with a codified post for them to "crack" - alluding to our upcoming activation.

Two hours before the premiere, we launched a Periscope livestream that tied into the time-traveling theme of the show, in which a calendar counted forward from June 1998 (when Szechuan Sauce was introduced) to July 2017 (present day). Fans were invited to engage with the livestream to bring back three jugs of sauce to present day.

Additionally, on October 7, we released limited quantities of sauce in stores paired with special edition posters.


The Twitter teaser and livestream became the first and second-most retweeted organic content in McDonald's history, resulting in a combined 4.8MM impressions.

The Facebook teaser became the most shared organic post in McDonald's history on the platform, resulting in over 5.7MM people reached. The Periscope event resulted in 224k viewers.

The initiative quickly became the most talked about event in recent McDonald's history, generating extensive earned media. One winner from the livestream giveaway even sold listed his bottle of sauce on eBay for $15,000, later privately selling it to celebrity DJ, Deadmau5. The livestream received 100+ organic media placements, yielding over 600 million impressions.

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