It involves a certain Grammy-nominated rapper.
The age of the celebrity meal shows no signs of winding down any time soon.
It truly began in 1992 when McDonald’s (MCD) – Get McDonald’s Corporation Report and basketball legend Michael Jordan collaborated to launch the McJordan Special, a Quarter Pounder with pickles, onions, bacon and barbecue sauce.
It was popular at the time but, over the following three decades, was largely a one-off phenomenon.
It was only over the last few years that we have started to see these types of collabs spring up from every corner — from the “Timbiebs” donut holes that Canadian Restaurants Brands International (QSR) – Get Restaurant Brands International Inc Report Tim Hortons launched with Justin Bieber to the McDonald’s and Saweetie collaboration or the “Hottie Sauce” that Popeyes launched with Meghan Thee Stallion.
What’s The Celebrity Meal This Time?
The latest celebrity meal comes from Kentucky Fried Chicken and Grammy-nominated rapper Jack Harlow. With over 6.5 million followers on Instagram, the 24-year-old Kentucky native is a breakout rap star whose fast food chain collaboration was only a matter of time.
The principle of the celebrity fast food meal is that it includes a few popular items with an unconventional pairing or condiment picked by the star. In his case, the Jack Harlow Meal includes a KFC Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Secret Recipe Fries, macaroni and cheese with a side of ranch and a cold lemonade.
The meal was designed after Harlow visited the Yum! Brands (YUM) – Get Yum! Brands, Inc. Report-owned fried chicken chain’s headquarters in Louisville and worked with testers to create a meal that he would want to eat.
It is also served in custom packaging that puts a drawing of Harlow’s face on the KFC’s signature red-and-white containers.
Available from June 4 in Atlanta and June 6 nationwide, the meal is meant to play up the fact that both Harlow and KFC come from Louisville.
“Growing up I always dreamed of being the biggest artist to come from Kentucky,” Harlow wrote on his Instagram account on Friday. “Now I’m teaming up with @KFC, the biggest brand to come out of Kentucky. For the next year, we’re gonna do some big things together.”
For now, those big things also include branded Marlow merchandise that fans can buy on KFC’s app.
In one more effort to be extra, KFC is temporarily naming a location in Smyrna, Georgia as Jack’s Meal HQ and blasting Harlow’s songs from speakers for fans that come in for their chicken.
The Celebrity Meal May Be Weird But It’s Working
Harlow’s collaboration with KFC predates the Jack Harlow Meal as a larger part of a deal to have Harlow promote the fried chicken chain’s products. The Jack Harlow Kentucky Fried Chicken Favorites first launched in March 2022.
But while celebrities have always served as promoters of certain brands, the celebrity meal is what has been seeing truly skyrocketing popularity over the last two years.
Particularly with younger consumers, seeing a meal designed by a face they like to listen to pushes them to want to try it in a way that no product alone could do.
“Celebrity endorsements are particularly powerful with children,” Josh Golin, the executive director of advertising research nonprofit Fairplay, told the New York Times in April. “They begin to associate that celebrity with the brand, and they want that junk food even when it’s not being directly advertised to them.”