McDonald’s China rocks Blokecore in Verdy collab

Key Takeaways

  • Staying true to its penchant for fashion collaborations, McDonald’s China dropped a collab with the edgy Japanese label Verdy.
  • Leveraging 90s nostalgia, the campaign dabbled in the Gen Z fashion trend Blokecore and pop art cartoon IPs.
  • McDonald’s also held a retrospective exhibition in 4 cities under Verdy’s “Best Friends Forever” tagline.

Fashion and fast food might seem like unlikely bedfellows for a marketing campaign. But in China, they go together like peanut butter and jelly – that is to say, perfectly. This owes a lot to McDonald’s China, which has consistently redefined the meaning of cool with its playful collaborations with designers.

McDonald’s already put on an outlandish “Chicken Food Fashion” show earlier this year with the help of Chinese designer Angus Chiang. On top of that, we saw the brand drop a sleek collaboration with Edison Chen’s streetwear label CLOT as well as a fun Crocs series.

This time, the fast food behemoth teams up with Japanese streetwear label Verdy for a campaign featuring Blokecore-infused apparel, a funky packaging refresh, and even a cultural exhibition.

The campaign avoids being too cutesy by adding a splash of Y2K cool

McDonald’s gets a Y2K makeover  

As with the Crocs collaboration, Mcdonald’s is leaning heavily into its classic cartoon IPs to evoke childhood nostalgia among post-90s consumers, who will remember them fondly. Verdy added its own iconic character, a panda/rabbit named Vick, into the mix for this campaign, partnering him up with the Hamburglar and Speedee under the tagline “Best Friends Forever”. But the campaign theme avoids being too cutesy by adding a splash of Y2K cool alongside these adorable cartoon designs.

The top designed by Verdy, the campaign’s centrepiece, has a distinct vintage jersey feel, with its shimmering fabric and collar closely resembling a 2000s football kit. This taps into Blokecore, a Gen Z fashion trend that swept Chinese social media during the 2022 Qatar World Cup. It has remained popular this year with the rise of women’s football on the international stage.

Netizens seemed to delight in the packaging even more than the trendy apparel drop

Much like the Blokecore examples on Xiaohongshu, the McDonald’s x Verdy tees are paired with slick ponytails and baggy trousers in the campaign material for the full Y2K effect. Confident fashionistas can also choose to rock the tee with the co-branded bandana and chunky chain necklace made for the collection. The chain is also customisable with Best Friends Forever-themed widgets, making it the perfect mash-up of cool and playful.  

Offline delights for the young at heart

On top of the exclusive clothing collection, 14 different types of McDonald’s packaging, from drink cups to Happy Meal boxes, got remodelled Verdy-style. Along with the fresh packaging come three exclusive new menu options – Matcha Soymilk Pie, Matcha Soymilk McFlurry and Matcha Flavour Ice Cream Swirl. Playing on the “Best Friends Forever” theme, McDonald’s is also offering a 50% discount to diners who place a second order of food.

Netizens seemed to delight in the packaging even more than the trendy apparel drop, perhaps as it tickles many young Chinese’ fondness for collectable items. One post on McDonald’s official Xiaohongshu profile even demonstrated an alternative use for the packaging – when folded and slipped inside a clear phone case, a burger wrapper becomes a cool pop art phone accessory. A few lucky customers who shared their own co-branded DIY art on social media were rewarded with a McDonald’s meal card worth 100 RMB.

As McDonald’s doubles down on its investment in China, the brand can confidently claim they are deeply committed to this market

McDonald’s topped this all off with a retrospective exhibition in Beijing, Foshan, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, proving that luxury brands are not the only ones that can show off their brand legacy. Here the campaign’s leveraging of nostalgia was even more explicit. To promote the exhibition, which runs until December 10, McDonald’s shared one of its old newspaper adverts, edited with “Best Friends Forever” in Verdy’s font underneath the Golden Arches.

As McDonald’s doubles down on its investment in China by repurchasing a 28% stake in the local business, the brand can confidently claim it is – and always has been – deeply committed to this market. The nostalgia of this collaboration achieves the ultimate goal of feeling completely authentic, as it honours 33 years of continued success and connection with Chinese consumers.