Photo Credit: McDonald’s
In 1982, McDonald’s introduced pork to their menu with the debut of the McRib, a unique sandwich consisting of a boneless pork patty shaped to resemble a slab of ribs. Due to poor reception, it was pulled off the national menu in 1985. This initial lackluster performance would lead one to believe that the McRib would be put to rest beneath the golden arches in the sky, along with the McDLT, McLean Deluxe, McPizza and Chicken McNuggets Shanghai.
But McDonald’s kept the menu item available, leaving it up to the individual franchises if and when they included it on the menu. This caused the sandwich to be notoriously elusive and created a cult-like following. You never knew which McDonald’s offered the McRib, elevating the humble sandwich to a rare epicurean experience.
Observing an increase in popularity, McDonald’s reintroduced the pork delicacy nationwide in 2005. For the first time in 20 years, the McRib was available at every location, albeit for just four to eight weeks at a time. This gave the hamburger giant a marketing angle that is tried and true: the limited availability of a product creates consumer desire. (B2B marketers also embrace this technique often with preseason ordering discounts.) Each year, the McRib’s celebrated arrival creates a buzz among consumers and further reinforces its scarcity. Each year from 2005 to 2007, McDonald’s heralded the “McRib Farewell Tour,” implying that this was your last chance to enjoy the cult classic. And every campaign surrounding the sandwich during this time echoed with urgency: “For a limited time only! Hurry, get it while it lasts!”
For the last few years, however, the sandwich has continued to make its notorious appearance, usually during late fall. This year, however, Ad Age reports that the McRib will grace our palate during the Christmas season. In an effort to increase their fourth quarter sales, Mickey D’s has pushed back the perennial pork presence to mid-December. This MVP has proven to significantly boost sales in the past, so offering it during the slow winter season encourages people to make a special trip for the special sandwich.
Will you be enjoying a magical McDonald’s McRib this holiday season?