The Deconstructed Brief



Brand: McDonald's

Agency: Delicious Design League

Challenge: After a two-year hiatus, McDonald’s reintroduced chicken strips to menus across the country. McDonald’s is hoping the new (-ish) Buttermilk Crispy Tenders will help lure back customers who are fleeing for fast-casual dining options. The tenders are accompanied by nine — nine! — dipping sauces, with on-trend flavors to target novelty-craving Millennials.

But, really, is anyone excited about chicken tenders?

One Thought:

What kind of dipping sauce are you?


Elevate the dipping sauces into something worth obsessing about. Chicago agency, Delicious Design League, created limited-edition illustrations that look like they were inspired by concert posters. The bold posters helped turn the sauces into identities.

A few examples:

  • Sriracha mac sauce features an Asian-inspired, fiery lion with the motto, “Only passion outlives the heat.”
  • Hot mustard looks like a trippy retro astronaut. “The people that dip into this sauce tend to be a rare breed, with unique taste.”
  • Honey mustard is simple, bright and colorful. It’s for people who are “sweet, enthusiastic and a job to befriend.” (Yes, the last part of that is kind of negative. But we all have high-maintenance friends like that.)

The tenders and sauces have already won over a food critic from the Chicago Tribune, who wrote: “The condiment packed more heat than the Secret Service. I even gave my Buffalo sauce container its own perch.”

What the Delicious Design League said:

“In the end, over 10,000 posters were printed and shipped to select stores nationwide, creating a buzz that rippled through both the poster world and the food industry alike.”

Lessons to be learned:

  • Create exclusivity — Delicious Design League only created 10,000 real-life posters that were spread throughout the country. Fans waited in line to get the posters, which they bragged about on social media.
  • But don’t burn your fans — However, exclusivity can go too far. Some fans ranted on social media about the lack of posters, but that was nothing compared to the media firestorm McDonald’s created during a limited release of Szechuan sauce aimed at the hard-core fans of the hit show, “Rick & Morty.”
  • Pick the right medium — There is no doubt that McDonald’s and its partner agencies kicked around a ton of ideas to promote the tenders. They likely landed on posters because it’s different. A real-life object can stand out in a digital world — and it doesn’t hurt that the posters were part of a fan experience.