Why McDonald’s Recently Flipped the Golden Arches

Why McDonald’s Recently Flipped the Golden Arches

The advertisement pays tribute to the longstanding tradition in manga and anime of featuring a “WcDonald’s” restaurant.

The concept involves closing McDonald’s and letting WcDonald’s thrive. This pop culture-inspired makeover will launch globally on February 26, featuring a series of WcDonald’s manga and anime films, new sauces, and limited-edition packaging.

The fictional parody store WcDonald’s, often written as “WacDonalds” or “Wacdnald,” has become a staple in many well-known TV shows, comic books, and video games over the past few decades.

Its origins trace back to the manga and anime series Cat’s Eye, where it first appeared in graphic novels in 1981 and later in the television adaptation episode 48 in 1983.

Since then, McDonald’s has frequently appeared in movies, TV shows, and books. Examples include the anime series Sonic X, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, and the ongoing manga magazine Otaku Elf. Common portrayals include glimpses of the inverted arches on busy city streets, characters eating McDonald’s burgers with the company’s logo, or employees wearing the recognizable red and yellow uniforms.

The WcDonald’s concept has now come to life. Consumers can purchase WcNuggets in-store in revamped WcDonald’s packaging that pays homage to its fictional versions, served with a side of chili sauce. The unique branding was created by Japanese manga artist Acky Bright, who also produced four digital comics for the collaboration.

Characters include a giant robot called WcDizer 3000 and a diverse group of McDonald’s employees; Bright said he imagined real crew members who might actually be working in the store.

“Although I am a manga artist and often parody real brands to avoid legal issues, this was unique because McDonald’s itself initiated the parody officially, a first globally,” Bright wrote in an email to Fast Company. “I incorporated a lot of the retro McDonald’s feel into the design. Now that the WcDonald’s campaign has formally begun, I’m curious to see how manga and anime will respond to it moving forward.”

In addition, four anime shorts were produced for the promotion by McDonald’s in collaboration with the Japanese animation company Studio Pierrot. Each McDonald’s episode is based on a popular anime theme, such as action, romance, fantasy, or mecha (short for mechanical, like Transformers). Pierrot is best known for the show Naruto. Each week, a manga and an animation short will be distributed via the store’s physical packaging and QR codes.

JJ Healan, vice president of McDonald’s U.S. marketing: brand, content, and culture, explained the advertisement’s rationale in an email to Fast Company. “The key to success for a concept like McDonald’s is to maintain genuine and profound relationships with our followers while integrating our brand into society,” Healan stated. “We look beyond short-term sales windows; instead, we rely on long-lasting connections and brand loyalty to drive the business.”

For Bright, seeing McDonald’s embrace its fictional character has been fulfilling.

“Being selected for such an immensely enjoyable project, where the global brand seriously engages in parody, has been an honor and a purely enjoyable experience,” Bright said. “As I respond to this interview, I’m still working on the last manga chapter, and even this time is fun for me.”

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