BTS fans line up in front of a McDonald’s in Sinchon, Seoul, Thursday. (Jo He-rim/The Korea Herald)
Under a light drizzle on Thursday morning, a group of young people stood outside a McDonald’s in Sinchon, Seoul, waiting in line.
“Since the announcement in April, I have been waiting for the launch of the BTS Meal, and I am very glad to finally have it today,” Toni Yeptho told The Korea Herald as she stepped outside with a McDonald’s meal to go. Not just any meal, but the BTS Meal.
Clad in her green BTS sweatshirt, Toni, an exchange student from India, introduced herself as a member of the Army -- the K-pop septet’s fandom community. With her two friends, also part of the BTS Army, she planned to come back for the same meal for dinner that day or for breakfast the next day.
Thursday was the first day that McDonald’s latest celebrity meal went on sale in Korea.
At around 10:35 a.m., five minutes after its official launch, the Sinchon store was crowded mostly with BTS fans. A McDonald’s staff member stood in front of the entrance to guide them in using the QR code check-in system. Only a limited number of customers could eat there, in line with the COVID-19 preventive protocols.
K-pop boy group BTS (McDonald’s Korea)
The BTS Meal, consisting of the “go-to” favorites of the band members -- 10 Chicken McNuggets, medium fries, medium drink, and Sweet Chili and Cajun dipping sauces inspired by recipes from McDonald’s South Korea -- goes on sale in 49 countries around the globe.
While the launch dates vary, some 12 countries -- including the United States, Malaysia and Austria -- were early birds and began selling the meal Wednesday.
While the chain did not launch any new foods for the meal, what excited fans here was idea that the paper bag, the McNuggets case and the cup -- featuring the BTS logo and using the group’s symbolic color, purple -- were distributed to McDonald’s in other countries.
The Sweet Chili and Cajun dipping sauces, developed by McDonald’s Korea, are also being sent out with the same Korean label they carry here.
BTS Army (Jo He-rim/The Korea Herald)
BTS Army (Jo He-rim/The Korea Herald)
“I am very glad that my favorite artist group has grown globally to collaborate with another global brand, the McDonald’s. And I believe it is a great opportunity to promote South Korea, and the Korean language to the world,” said Park Ji-yeon, 21, who was having the BTS Meal at McDonald’s Sangam DMC branch on Thursday.
Kim Ho-seo, another BTS fan, said the BTS Meal was an achievement for the idol group and a small source of happiness for the fans.
The McDonald’s staff wore BTS Crew T-shirts with a design featuring Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, released by SAINTS, a global fashion media brand. The Hangeul-inspired uniforms were also to be worn by McDonald’s employees worldwide.
In preparation for the promotional event, McDonald’s Korea said it had prepared more than the usual amounts of ingredients for the items in the BTS Meal, and also for the Oreo McFlurry. While the ice cream treat is not part of the meal set, it is well known as BTS member V’s favorite dessert.
In addition to the BTS Meal, McDonald’s and BTS dropped a line of merch on the Weverse Shop app. It includes hoodies, purple bathrobes, socks and sandals, according to the burger chain.
The collaboration campaign is part of McDonald’s Famous Orders program, which the burger chain introduced in September to reinvigorate its classic menu items by linking them with celebrities.
The first celebrity collaboration under the program was with US rapper Travis Scott, whose meal had a limited run in the US.
So the teamwork with BTS is special in that it is the burger giant’s first celebrity signature order that is going on “global tour.”
While neither McDonald’s nor Hybe, the K-pop powerhouse behind BTS, responded to requests for comment over their contract, their joint project is likely to yield a handsome profit for both parties.
According Forbes, McDonald’s reportedly paid Scott $5 million (5.58 billion won) for the endorsement and another $15 million for merch sales.
Scott’s signature meal consisted of a Quarter Pounder, fries with barbecue sauce and a medium Sprite.