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BANKIE'S HOT TAKE #39 - McDonald's Bringing Back CosMc?

I recently read a report on CNBC about a McDonald’s side project they’ve begun working on.

A spinoff of McDonald’s called CosMc’s will be opened in a few markets “in limited geography” in early 2024. As per McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski, “CosMc’s is a small format concept with all the DNA of McDonald’s, but with its own unique personality,”

Corporate buzzwords, there’s nothing like it. In spite of this, I’m intrigued. Why CosMc’s? Why now?

Our fearless leader, Jon Harder, wrote an article on HardwayHQ about six years ago, discussing the short history of the 1987-1988 McDonaldland character, CosMc, who had come down to McDonaldland to enjoy a nice healthy meal of fast food, and quickly made friends with Ronald McDonald, the Professor, and Grimace.

Jon’s view was that CosMc was “part alien, part robot, part Surfer Dude from California”. And although Mac Tonight, who was unveiled in 1988 to help promote the late night menu of McDonald’s, got wildly popular, CosMc just didn’t click. By the end of the year, CosMc was removed from commercials and was left in the ether.

Similar to Jon, I was a CosMc guy. And as you could see from the header photo, I actually own a rare piece of McDonald’s inventory - a CosMc clip-on badge, promoting the 1988 Summer Olympics. I’m definitely a bit of a nostalgia nerd.

But in 2023, before this article, the word CosMc in the McDonald’s universe hasn’t been uttered publicly in 35 years. Why now?

I’ll give you one answer: GRIMACE.

The success of Grimace’s Birthday Celebration, in my opinion, brought this on. The promotion of the limited edition Grimace Shake (which I wrote about here) was tremendously successful. The marketing campaign went viral, which in turn, brought in fantastic sales to McDonald’s. Seeing Grimace on camera with Birdie and the Hamburglar for the first time in decades resonated with a lot of Generation Xers, who grew up watching McDonald’s commercials and loving it. (Bad pun.)

When corporations see a marketing campaign work, and dollars come pouring in, you know they will revisit the well. Grimace opened the floodgates to more opportunities.

Also, as weird as it sounds, CosMc’s might be right place, right time. The discussion of aliens in the media has never been more prevalent. CosMc, being an alien and coming from outer space, fits that mold.

From a marketing perspective, the McDonald’s marketing team has their finger on the pulse for the first time in decades.

I predict that CosMc’s will be placed in major markets with a surplus of nostalgic nerd and Generation Z people. It won’t be as mainstream as McDonald’s, but it will gain a cult following. It will do its best to look futuristic and modern, while using CosMc as a mascot for the brand. The marketing will be viral, similar to Grimace, and will become a cult classic place to visit. For the short term, it will be gangbusters, but once the initial buzz wears off, it will do normal McDonald’s type business.

After the investor meetings in December of this year, it will give more of a broad scope of what to expect at the restaurant. I will be tuning in.

Until then, just like CosMc said prior to leaving McDonaldland, “Later, dudes!”


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