McRib Tour Case Study

southern california McDonald's Presents

Pork & Pepper
Comeback Tour


1. Background

The McRib sandwich has always been McDonald’s most unusual product. It’s never a regular menu item. It comes and goes. And on three separate occasions, it was announced to be going away forever. The result is a cult following. Fans wait all year long to see if their favorite pork sandwich will appear in their local McDonald’s.


In 2015, McDonald’s in Southern California had decided not to offer the McRib. Some customers were disappointed. Others were openly angry.

Now in November of 2016, the McRib would be returning to SoCal. But what would the fan reaction be after the two-year absence? And what would be the best way to advertise that the McRib was back?


The goal was to announce that the McRib was back in the Southern California Market. But a decision had to be made. Should the two-year gap be addressed? Or should it be ignored. The decision was made to be honest with the McRib fans. To let them know that their pain was felt.


Southern California is one of the great music regions. The streets of Los Angeles are dotted with clubs and theaters playing some of the best music in the world. And SoCal is the birthplace of entire genres of music.

If the McRib is returning to Southern California after a long absence why not call it a comeback tour?

Because the McRib was going to advertised alongside Doctor Pepper, the event was dubbed, The Pork And Pepper Tour.


The agency wanted to create an integrated campaign that felt like a music tour, but which type of music? Tying the McRib to a single genre could possibly alienate some customers. So the decision was made to use several types of music.


The billboards were up, the tour bus was running, but would the fans respond?

The answer was YES!

The campaign really caught the attention of both McRib fans and regular customers. Visitors to the campaign microsite had an engagement time of 3:08 with 21% of users creating a Tour Badge. Display showed some impressive numbers as well. Earning a CTR of .66%, about 3 times the industry standard. And the campaign's breakthrough design created social buzz on all platforms.

But the true measure of success for any campaign is sales. And in this category, the Pork and Pepper Tour was a smash hit. In the first two weeks, McRib sales had increased nearly 25% compared to 2014. 




The streets of SoCal were suddenly filled with out-of-home and posters advertising the new tour. And there were five different versions. Fans of Punk, Latin, K-Pop, EDM and Rap were all represented. Each version looked different but they all contained the image of a pig.

Transit Shelters

The reaction to the out-of-home creative was above and beyond what is typically seen in the market. People posted pictures of billboards and commented all over social media, generating more awareness for the McRib promotion.



Television & web video

For TV and web, one spot was created for the General Market and one for the Hispanic Market. The GM spot leveraged our K-Pop look to create a high-energy concert promo filled with cheering McRib fans. The HM spot, featured a truly unusual floating pig head dancing to an appropriate Latin beat.

General Market

Hispanic Market


The tour theme was continued on radio. Concert Promo, the General Market spot, was a parody of legitimate concert radio spots. It featured an over-the-top announcer who sounded like a DJ from a local SoCal radio station. The second spot, Interview, was given an added level of authenticity by featuring a real LA radio personality, Nicole Alvarez from KROQ.

The HCM version of Concert Promo was crafted to sound like a spot off a real Spanish-Language radio station.

Interview took a piece of cultural insight and turned into a joke. English-speaking celebrities often speak in heavily-accented Spanish when they appear on Spanish radio. So a non-Spanish speaking actor was used for the role.




All print, television and radio executions drove people to the, the official website of the Pork & Pepper Tour. At the site, people could learn where and when to join the McRib Tour Bus. They could also generate their own highly unique backstage pass, suitable for sharing on the social media platform of their choosing. The engagement time for each user visit averaged an astounding 3:08 with 21% of users creating a badge.




Bold, bright and like nothing you’d expect from McDonald's, our tour graphics appeared in display banners for both desktop and mobile. The loud, eye-catching banners achieved a CTR of .66% approximately 3 times the industry standard.


Visitors to our activation sites could share the experience on their social feeds. Using geo-targeted Snapchat filters, people could frame their photos with their favorite McRib Tour graphics.




A tour needs a tour bus. So a large coach was wrapped with the Pork and Pepper Tour graphics. The bus made appearances at popular music venues all over Southern California, engaging with fans and spreading the word about McRib. The bus was accompanied by activation teams who handed out McRib tour swag to the fans who presented their badge created on the campaign microsite.