Take some controversy, a dash of pop culture, a sprinkling of mea culpa, and add a whole new creative condiment to a decades-old brand.
It’s a story we missed in Australia, but was BIG in America.
It all began in 1998, when McDonald’s introduced “Szechuan sauce” as a limited-time-only promotional dipping sauce for the Disney animated film, Mulan.
Fast forward two decades, American animated sitcom Rick and Morty reminds the world of this forgotten sauce. Rick tells Morty in a crazy rant that he’ll go out and find that “Szechuan teriyaki dipping sauce.”
That started a groundswell of popular demand from Rick and Morty fans for McDonald’s to bring back that dipping sauce!
Thousands of people signed petitions across the country for McDonald’s to reintroduce the sauce, which they did in October 2018.
What should have been a PR coup soon turned into a disaster, as McDonald’s didn’t provide anywhere near enough sauce for participating outlets around America.
Some Canadians drove hours for a taste of the sauce, only to leave with a sour taste.
Thousands of people lined up to buy sauce that wasn’t available. At one place, a crowd of frustrated sauce fans were held back by police.
McDonald’s was forced to apologise. What could have been a complete disaster, is now being promoted as an exceptional – somewhat ridiculous – story, worthy of a podcast.
This February, McDonald’s has re-reintroduced Szechuan sauce, 20 million packages in fact, and launched a 3-episode podcast as part of the marketing blitz.
What I love about The Sauce is how McDonald’s is truly up for doing something completely different. It’s taken a lighthearted approach to explain what happened, the goodwill in providing the sauce in the first place, and why there was not enough to go around.
Whether you like the sauce or not, or even McDonald’s, it’s a clever way of using podcasting to tell a story.