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McDonald's rolls out adult Happy Meals in streetwear collaboration – RetailWire

McDonald’s announced for the first time the release of a Happy Meal aimed at adults in a limited-edition collaboration with cult streetwear label, Cactus Plant Flea Market Box.
For the collaboration, Cactus Plant Flea Market, known for its offbeat use of asymmetrical typography with puff-print graphics worn by hip hop stars, designed a box in the label’s signature style alongside the iconic golden arches of McDonald’s.
Customers can pick between a Big Mac meal or a 10-piece Chicken McNuggets meal, both coming with fries and a drink. Each Happy Meal box includes one of four Cactus Plant Flea Market-designed figurines: Grimace, the Hamburglar and Birdie, as well as a new character, Cactus Buddy! (exclamation point included).
The Cactus Plant Flea Market Box will be available starting Oct. 3, while supplies last.
Customers who purchase the Cactus Plant Flea Market Box on the McDonald’s App will be entered in a drawing to win exclusive free merchandise during the limited-time window, including custom t-shirts, hoodies and a Grimace Chair. The merchandise will be available to purchase at cpfmmcdonalds.com while supplies last.
“We’re taking one of the most nostalgic McDonald’s experiences and literally repackaging it in a new way that’s hyper-relevant for our adult fans,” said Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s USA chief marketing and customer experience officer, in a release.
Over the last few years, McDonald’s has found wild success from its “Famous Orders” campaign that features limited-time meals sponsored by star musicians, including Travis Scott, BTS, Saweetie and Mariah Carey.
Quick-service restaurants have also partnered on product collaborations, including White Castle with fashion label Telfar, KFC with streetwear brand Hype and 7-Eleven recently with Crocs.
The Cactus Plant Flea Market stands out for tapping nostalgia around Happy Meals.
Kelly Goldsmith, E. Bronsom Ingram, professor of marketing at Vanderbilt University, told Today that, given the chain’s 67-year history, advertising only needs to focus on “simply reminding their customers that they exist.”
She said, “There is lots of new and different competition in the fast food space, but one differentiating attribute that new entrants cannot leverage is nostalgia and history.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What trends stand out to you around the launch of the Cactus Plant Flea Market Box? Do you see opportunities for similar collaborations in the fast-food space?
10 Comments on “McDonald’s rolls out adult Happy Meals in streetwear collaboration”
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This is a clever execution that draws attention to the brand through a slightly unexpected partnership, while simultaneously tapping into the nostalgia of the Happy Meal and the toys in particular. Lots of consumers will be pleased with this collab. It’s a win-win.
This is a good initiative by McDonald’s as it hits a number of themes. Retrophilia and nostalgia are the two main ones – with a hope that this better activates customers who, since being young, perhaps use the chain less. There is also a strong collectibles element, including additional merchandise, which is appealing to large numbers of consumers. Finally, the collaboration with Cactus Plant Flea Market allows McDonald’s to continue its foray into pop culture with a brand known for its whimsy and eccentricity.
Personally, until they bring back Mayor McCheese, I’m not interested. Seriously though — this is a really fun way for McDonald’s to support their brand. Nostalgia sells when it’s done well, and this looks like it’s going to be done well. Happy Meals have been around for over 40 years. That means a generation of new parents who grew up with Happy Meals are now buying them for their kids. Having a Happy Meal of their own in a whimsical branded box — sounds like a winner.
The Gen Z audience may pay attention, but the rest of us won’t.
This paves the way for many more interesting collaborations between McDonald’s and designers. It’s smart for the chain to work with creative names far outside the food category that are meaningful to its target audience.
This might be a decent flash in the pan — but that’s about it. It’s not likely that collaborations like this will work regularly — either for McDonald’s or for other fast-food places. Some things just don’t have those kinds of legs.
Nostalgia nostalgia nostalgia. There have been campaigns online asking McD’s to bring back the Halloween pails for quite some time. This is a smart move by McDonald’s to capitalize on the unique brand collab trends while also leaning into nostalgia.
Well, it’s creative, so there is that. And, I’m sure it will appeal to a subset of adults. Many years ago, I worked for the Red Rose Tea Company and they included a figurine with every box of tea. It was extremely popular. As best as I could tell at the time, it was an older demographic who bought a lot of tea and loved the figurines. I just checked and Red Rose still offers figurines, so I guess they still work with somebody.
This is a crazy collaboration combined with fast food, that is stretching to target any adult market. There is no real trend here, and these printed special Happy Meals combined with drawing for streetwear, is certain to fail. McDonald’s needs to focus on what has been proven to work, and not waste resources on losing propositions.
I love the nostalgia for the Happy Meal and keeping connected to the brand. I would love to see some more adult food offerings with it, like a plant based burger or other elevated food offerings.

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