Eat like your idol? Celebrity creations take over fast food menus

Mariah Carey. Image: screenshot of ‘Mariah Carey wants you to try the Mariah menu’ via YouTube / McDonald’s

Want to eat like your favorite pop star? Fast food chains cater to fans with dishes and menus created by successful musicians such as Mariah Carey, BTS and Shawn Mendes. And it’s a trend that has more to do with marketing than food, it seems.

Have you ever wondered what Taylor Swift orders from Starbucks? Fans of the American singer, also known as the Swifties, probably did. Now, the cafe chain is enlightening fans of the star by putting “Taylor’s Version,” a fat-free caramel latte billed as the “star’s favorite drink,” on its outlet menus.

While the concoction isn’t exactly one world of the other drinks available in the American chain, it seems to have won over many Taylor Swift fans, even the most reluctant. “Not really a latte fan, but TAYLOR MADE ME MAKE IT!” It’s so good actually, ”one @caticorn_tswift tweeted. On social media, many other Swifties shared their thoughts on the drink, available until November 19.

From coffee to personalized burgers

If this collaboration with the coffee giant may be surprising, it especially allows the 31-year-old singer to promote “Red (Taylor’s Version)”, the new re-orchestration of her fourth album. And she’s certainly not the only artist to partner with a fast food restaurant chain for marketing purposes.

BTS, Charli d’Amelio, and Shawn Mendes have all cooked up their own items or orders for fast food chains. The undisputed queen of TikTok lent her name (and her very lucrative image) to a Dunkin ‘cold brew coffee with whole milk and caramel topping, while the singer “Señorita” became the ambassador of a Chipotle bowl made up of of cauliflower rice with lime and cilantro, black beans, chicken and guacamole, among other ingredients.

Fans can legitimately wonder if these are dishes their idols eat, or just marketing operations. Who could forget the 1995 Pizza Hut commercial in which Ringo Starr sang the praises of the brand’s first filled-crust pizza, without even tasting it due to his multiple food allergies.

But it seems those days are over and stars are embarking on the act of whipping up fast food offerings that truly reflect their own tastes and identities.

That’s what Travis Scott did in 2020 for his distinguished collaboration with McDonald’s. The American rapper has designed a menu based on a classic bacon cheeseburger, accompanied by fries with barbecue sauce and a Sprite. He also worked on the advertisement promoting this limited offer by hand drawing the images shown and writing part of the script. Travis Scott and his team at Cactus Jack have even designed outfits for McDonald’s employees.

A tasty approach to influencer marketing

If the collaboration encountered opposition from certain franchisees, it above all enabled the fast food company to win back a younger, African-American and multicultural clientele. This unexpected partnership would have resulted in a 4.6% increase in sales, according to the the Wall Street newspaper. For Travis Scott, on the other hand, the partnership with the fast food group has allowed him to strengthen his status as a cultural icon, the one who “tells [brands] what to do or say, rather than the other way around ”like Forbes wrote.

Other artists have since jumped on the bandwagon, most recently Mariah Carey. The Christmas Queen recently announced that a McDonald’s menu bearing her name will be sold in December in the United States.

“All I want for Christmas is for you all to try the Mariah menu at McDonald’s,” the “All I Want For Christmas Is You” performer said in a statement. “I had my holiday wish this year: my own menu among one of my absolute favorites! However, it’s a little harder to imagine Mariah squeezing into a Big Mac than J Balvin or Saweetie, who have also collaborated with the burger giant in recent years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhpSHExkjQo

And finally, that’s the complexity of celebrity-centric fast food: it has to be authentic. Authentic enough that fans would rush to a store to order some perfectly mundane, but approved food by their favorite artist.

“This cheeseburger is so exciting and chic that even Travis Scott eats it; Shawn Mendes is so normal and regular that he will even put those cauliflower shavings that we call rice in his pop star body, ”the American journalist Jameson Rich sums up ironically in Vox.

For now, this commercial strategy, halfway between influencer marketing and lifestyle branding, is bearing fruit. But one can’t help but wonder if the indigestion would kick in. JB

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About Walter Bartholomew

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