The next time you drive by McDonald's and inexplicably find yourself craving a Big Mac, check your radio before hitting the drive-through. If the burger chain has its way, by this summer the music you're listening to might be encouraging your Mac attack.
McDonald's has partnered with the marketing firm Maven Strategies in a plan to recruit hip-hop artists to mention the fast food chain's signature burger for pay, according to Advertising Age magazine's Web site.
The goal is to have a handful of songs flogging Big Macs on the air by summer, and Maven — which has reportedly had discussions with a number of artists, labels and producers — has already received an unidentified number of songs that are candidates for the promotion.
McDonald's will get final approval on the lyrics — which only need to mention the sandwich, not the parent company — but they'll have no involvement in writing the rhymes.
"The main thing is to allow the artists to do what they do best," Maven President Tony Rome told Ad Age. "We're letting them creatively bring to life the product in their song." Maven gets a consulting fee for brokering the deal; the artists do not receive a lump sum but will earn anywhere from $1 to $5 each time their song is played on a regular or satellite radio.
A McDonald's spokesperson said the hip-hop outreach project is the latest part of the company's 2-year old "I'm Lovin' It" ad campaign, the objective of which is to find "culturally relevant" ways to connect with 18- to 34-year-olds.
"Each McDonald's market has the freedom within the 'I'm lovin' it' framework to design programs that best resonate with customers, in this case a McDonald's U.S.A. concept designed to reach young adults through their music of choice," spokesperson Walt Riker said in a statement, adding that the company has final say on whether the plug is in an "appropriate setting."
Neither Rome nor McDonald's representatives returned calls for further comment.
Product placement in hip-hop songs is not new: Busta Rhymes' management company famously reaped financial benefits for his hit song "Pass the Courvoisier" (see "Push The Courvoisier: Are Rappers Paid For Product Placement?"), and Kanye West's Grammy-winning The College Dropout plugged no less than 19 different brands.
Maven is one of the pioneers of this kind of embedded product placement. Last year, according to Ad Age, it scored placement for Seagram's gin in songs by artists including West, Twista and Petey Pablo. In Pablo's "Freek-A-Leek," one of the most played hip-hop songs of 2004, the rapper proclaims, "Now I got to give a shout-out to Seagram's Gin/ 'Cause I'm drinkin' it and they payin' me for it."