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Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Fast-food giants are tapping stars with huge social media followings to hype menu items that already exist.

Why it matters: There are signs that it's invigorating sales — and every hot celebrity could soon try to lock down these deals.

"It's pure marketing. There isn't an exciting or new product attached to any of these," says Jim Sanderson, an analyst at Northcoast Research.

Expand chart
Data: Placer.ai; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Catch up quick: First came McDonald's, which began launching limited-edition "famous orders" last year.

  • Others — like Tim Hortons, which will launch doughnut holes with Justin Bieber next week — are following suit.

What to watch: Some launches correlate with a traffic spike, per data from analytics firm Placer.ai (it doesn't track stores abroad).

  • Popeyes' foot traffic rose 9% when it put rapper Megan Thee Stallion's name on a special sauce earlier this month — the biggest weekly jump since February.
  • McDonald's biggest jump in foot traffic last year coincided with the Travis Scott meal debut. The company said that month was best for same-store sales in almost a decade.

Yes, but: Burger King's launch of meals with hip-hop star Nelly and others last month wasn't enough to push that quarter's U.S. sales past 2019 levels.

What's next: McDonald's will partner with Mariah Carey ("All I Want for Christmas Is You") for 12 days of holiday deals.

Go deeper

Updated Nov 26, 2021 - Economy & Business

America's treat-yourself shopping season

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Inflation is driving prices up, but that's not keeping people out of stores.

What's happening: Retail sales climbed for the third straight month in October — and industry experts say holiday shopping could come roaring back this year after a pandemic-induced slump last year.

Updated 14 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 17 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.