Was the McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce promotion a marketing fiasco or success?
Depends on how you look at it.
Then again, here we are... talking about it.
Earlier this month, McDonald’s announced on their Twitter account that they would be bringing back the infamous Szechuan sauce— glorified on the Adult Swim show Rick and Morty— for just one day.
The news came after McDonald’s Chef Mike had sent Justin Roiland, one of the show's creators who is obsessed with the condiment, a jug full of the ketchup and teriyaki sauce mix after it was revealed to be part of the series arc for Rick and Morty. This took place two months before they decided to bring the sauce back.
People proved to be overly excited to take part in this one-day promotion by the fast-food giant.
Fans were so excited, that they were driving across state lines and camping outside the participating locations of the burger chain to get their hands on the promised Szechuan sauce.
Because there was a very limited supply available, not only did it not go well for some customers that were left without the sweet, tangy taste of the condiment, but also for the McDonald’s employees who were left to deal with demanding, upset customers.
Even the police were called in Los Angeles, Ca. due to riots that formed outside of one McDonald’s location.
Some good things did come out of the “failed” promotion, though. A woman was able to trade an old packet of the Szechuan sauce for a car, according to “The Drive.” Also, concert goers got a taste of the sauce thanks to Canadian music producer Joel Zimmerman, better known as deadmau5, when he shared his $15,000 jug of Szechuan sauce with his fans.
Needless to say social media was on fire and news outlets could not stop talking about the poorly planned promotion, calling it a “hysteria.”
But, was this really a failure for McDonald’s?
The fast-food giant managed to attach its brand to a popular show, mobilized people to visit their restaurants and after things didn’t go well McDonald’s was able to guide the conversation positively by releasing a statement apologizing, calling the events “not cool” and finally announcing that plenty more Szechuan sauce will be back this coming winter.
The way this was handled in the aftermath left some wondering— Was this planned all along? Or, did the company just do a good job capitalizing on the social media buzz?