McDonald’s and Wieden+Kennedy teamed up with one of the hottest brands in fashion and culture, Cactus Plant Flea Market, to launch a first-of-its-kind collab.
Everyone remembers that feeling of joy when you got a Happy Meal as a kid. And now we’ve created that nostalgic McDonald’s experience for adults.
Introducing: the Cactus Plant Flea Market Box. This campaign infuses our fans’ passion for art and fashion while celebrating some of their favorite McDonald’s menu items. What you see through every piece of the campaign is the world of McDonaldland through the eyes of Cactus Plant Flea Market.
Just like recent McDonald’s campaigns including Famous Orders, Menu Hacks and Camp McDonald’s, the CPFM Box is designed to not just participate in culture, but help create it.
We did a brief Q&A with the creative team behind the program, Drew Ruiz and Jeff Rozman.
__Talk about how this idea came about. Was there a specific inspiration? __
Jeff: The origins of this program came from reaching back to the nostalgia of that “You’re never too old for a Happy Meal.” What we wanted to do was bring in an artist to recreate the feeling of going to Mcdonald’s and leaning into those memories of Happy Meals, but through the lens of an artist. We invited Cactus Plant Flea Market to come in and reimagine that experience with a one-of-kind box and a set of collectables for an adult audience, which will include, not only the box and collectable, but also an an apparel line, a 360-commercial, an art installation, and exclusive merch where a portion of the proceeds will go to the the Virgil Abloh™ Post-Modern Scholarship Fund.
Why did McDonald’s and W+K choose CPFM for this collaboration?
Drew: Many of CPFM’s values are closely aligned with McDonald’s — they’re all about positivity, happiness and friendship. Combine that with their style being so vibrant, hand drawn, and boldly organic and upbeat, CPFM’s freedom of expression pushes the boundaries of design for not just streetwear brands but all their collaborations.
When we were concepting, we went to the drawing board on partnership possibilities — everything from streetwear to luxury. CPFM appealed to us because their designs are playful and recognizable. One of the biggest things we asked ourselves was how could we see McDonald’s through a CPFM lens? This meant envisioning all of these iconic McDonald’s characters with Cactus Plant’s iconic four eyes, and having that playful looking “M” — and ultimately they just made perfect sense. We knew that they were the brand that would help us reach the highest potential for a partnership like this, and they were genuine fans of McDonald’s.
What was the brief to CPFM, and what was it like working with them?
Jeff/Drew: It was two parts. “What memories do you have of going to McDonald’s?” and “If we provided a blank canvas for you to make an Adult Happy Meal box through the lens of your own experience, what would you cook up?”
What was it like working with Cactus Plant Flea Market?
Jeff: From the beginning, they completely bought into the collaboration and brought it to life in the biggest and most culturally viral way possible. Kudos to CPFM and McDonald’s for pushing each other into exciting and sometimes “scary” territories for both brands. CPFM is known for pushing boundaries, be it at Coachella or in their partnerships with the biggest names in hip hop. McDonald’s is known for pushing boundaries with its collaborations as well. Both brands let each other take the steering wheel and manifested themselves on this new box and figurines. McDonald’s really let Cactus have an open canvas to one of their biggest pieces of IP.
Drew: When you work with two recognizable, iconic parties, you have to be able to satisfy both sides. The project has been able to reach its full potential because we have an amazing team at McDonald’s that want to try new things, to go to places that they’ve never been before, and to create culture, not just participate in it.
Why do you think fans will embrace the CPFM box?
Drew: CPFM merch is pretty hard to get. So this partnership democratizes the high-end streetwear brand to make it accessible to McDonald’s fans. That’s the first thing. The second thing is, both brands are iconic and universally relevant. Wherever you go, on the internet or in any major city, you'll see CPFM merch. A lot of people collect figurines, and so many elements of this partnership will be collectors pieces. It's also about the hunt for those collectibles. You get the box and you don't know which one you're going to get. I feel people are going to want to save them and unbox them years from now.
Jeff: What's going to drive people to the restaurant is that McDonald’s is allowing an artist to come in and use all of their history as a canvas. There’s not one thing that Cactus hasn’t been able to touch on this—from the Ronald bench, to the iconic mascots, to the reimagined box with the iconic arches. To me, the most exciting thing about this program is McDonald’s saying “come in and make our stuff your stuff” — that’s wild.
What will people feel/see when they watch the film for this program?
Jeff: They’re not going to feel like this is a typical commercial. This will be something they’ve never seen before from a brand. It’s a true artistic piece that is more of something you’d see in the MOMA than a commercial. The level of craft and detail in this commercial is something that represents more of an artistic expression about McDonald’s than a story just about getting a meal. This is nostalgia, meets McDonald’s, meets CPFM in a hyper-real film that we hope will blow a lot of people's minds. The spot is called “Drive Thru with Friends,” which is an homage to CPFM’s favorite memory.
Drew: It's a lot of worlds colliding into one. The great thing about this is that you’ll want to watch it over and over again to catch the little creative accents you may have missed. Bringing back the characters is amazing and introducing Cactus Buddy, who outside of the designs, doesn't ever speak. Even the music track and when they get into the car—these characters have not been seen in decades and now we’re introducing them in a new light.
Tell us about the music in the spot.
Drew/Jeff: It’s an instrumental from Ludacris’ “The Potion.” It has a kind of “warped” sound when they’re riding in the car. The music references CPFM’s nostalgia of when they were going to the restaurant with their friends to get a meal. Their memory was from that Y2K period when Ludacris was hot, so that’s why he’s featured in the spot.
What did the director bring to this collab?
Jeff: Dan Streit was the director, and he’s known for his music video craft. So this work intentionally feels more like a music video than it does a typical commercial. His style is visually amusing. People won't know what hit them when they see this. It’s going to be a film you watch 200x and see a new detail each time. In music videos, you see a lot of different camera angles, hyper colors that pop, unique transitions, and the beat drives the spot. That’s what you’ll hopefully feel here.
What’s your favorite piece of the campaign?
Jeff: Reimagining and reintroducing iconic McDonald’s characters with a new friend, Cactus Buddy.
Drew: The box. On the CPFM Box, every panel of it is covered with their perspective about McDonald’s.