I thought once Halloween was over I’d be out of the world of cult classics like Rocky Horror and Vampires, but boy was I wrong. Another uniquely American cult classic was officially released on the 2nd and is still plaguing my Twitter, Facebook, Google News, and more. Of course I’m talking about McDonalds McRib sandwich. McDonalds scored with the McRib long before the digital era, which to some might make it seem like this year’s buzz is only from the sandwich’s last run in stores. However, the McRib campaign is already fast becoming a prime example of social media done right this year.

I’m going to be honest; I’ve never been a fan of McDonalds food. While some of my friends were jonesing for the Shamrock Shake and McRib, I went to the grocery store and got supplies for a homemade snack. Despite this, it’s hard to deny the appeal that many McDonalds foods have with consumers. McDonalds offers convenient, tasty food at a low budget. They appeal to children with happy meals, rushed professionals with cafe-style coffee, manly men with beefy burgers, and women with snack wraps and salads. On top of this, McDonalds has added value to their dining experience with games like Monopoly. If anyone understood buzz before the digital era, it was McDonalds. The McRib of course, is the ultimate icon of this brand’s success. The McRib cult became so popular it was immortalized in a Simpsons episode which paid homage to the sandwich with the Ribwich

Now McDonalds could have easily relied on the word of mouth already inherit in the product and the typical TV/Radio commercial rotation to make this resurrection successful, yet they made the correct marketing evolution and incorporated digital media. McDonalds is capitalizing on the McRib by using digital media, and they’re doing so with very little output on their part.

1) McDonalds begins by generating their own buzz
On October 11th McDonalds verified on their Twitter that the McRib will be sold starting November 2nd across America.
McRib Tweet To many this move might seem small, but it is genius in its simplicity. By tweeting this, McDonalds is playing off of the hokey culture surrounding the McRib, which will appeal to McRib lovers. They are also creating buzz that will build in the coming weeks to the release. The buzz might even make other consumers who laugh at the thought of the McRib think twice and consider buying it because of all the hype.

2)McDonalds creates digital tools to allow McRib lovers to voice their opinions, increasing buzz
McDonalds does what it does best, and creates a contest for consumers to send in their own video submissions. The user can submit their own video telling their own McRib legend which will then be voted on. The winner gets a trip to Germany where McRibs are served all year long (more info). The contests continue on Twitter where users can tweet their stories and be up for grabs for some smaller McRib-related prizes. Twitter users can also join in on the fun with the promoted trending topic “McRib is back” or #McRib.

3) McDonalds lets users voices spread throughout the digital world. The cult of McRib is alive again!
Because McDonalds has created their own outlets for users on Twitter, Facebook, and their own website, user feedback soon begins spreading like wildfire. Users begin creating their own hashtags like #McRibFail, which McDonalds gets in on by reposting users’ funny McRib stories. McDonalds even retweets questions and funny quotes about the McRib. Faithful McRib lovers can follow @McRibWatch to find real-time updates while hunting for locations that serve the McRib. The McRib Locator, made entirely from fan information, was even created to help users on their cross-country road-trips for the elusive sandwich. Social buzz infiltrates mainstream media, as the McRib becomes a topic of discussion on news, magazines, and newspapers.

Now, the Mcrib has only been released for 4 days, however by the end of this limited time release I think we can guess that step 4 would be Buzz becomes profit! The most important thing to realize about the McRib campaign is that McDonalds’ campaign will ultimately be successful because of the company’s decision to realize the star they have in the McRib. The McRib is an anomoly of a sandwich, and the company isn’t pretending anything other than that. Whether it is the fact that it is fake ribs inbetween buns that lead to its cult like obsession, or the fact that McDonalds only releases it for short times (McDonald’s president was quoted saying that “people get tired of it [the McRib]”) no one will know, but McDonalds listened to consumers and built upon the culture surrounding the sandwich by facilitating an outlet for customer’s stories on social media. McDonalds chose to engage, which is a must in social media, but they also went above and beyond by creating other tools for consumers to engage with the company and each other. (Side note: This campaign also shows the benefits of allowing consumers to control the message of your brand) The “legend of the McRib” shared in the stories of thousands of Americans through word of mouth and digital media will do what no simple TV commercial or radio ad could ever produce for McDonalds.