“Tell them Cactus Jack sent you.” Travis Scott’s Collaborations

            I think the best place to begin is shoes. Not the first shoes mind you. That was a Reebok 2013 collaboration with a special blue and grey run colorway of the Reebok Classic Leather. No, the shoes that I want to begin with are Nike. Although, I don’t want to start with the first Nike either. The first Nike was Jordan Trunner LX since that one was unreleased to the public. The shoes I want to start with are Travis Scott X Nike Air Force 1 Low released in 2017. That is probably a good starting point.1

            Before we continue with the shoes, I would like to provide a very brief background. Travis Scott is among other things a rapper, producer, and video director. He has been nominated for eight Grammys, his first three studio albums went platinum, and his 2018 album Astroworld debuted No. 1 on the Billboard 200.2 While the focus of this blog is not on Scott’s music career it is important to have a basic understanding of his background. Now back to the shoes.

            The Travis Scott X Nike Air Force 1 Low was the first proper introduction of Scott’s partnership with Nike. They ended up being quite successful with another number of collaborations following.1 Also a key element here is a collaboration. Scott reportedly does a lot of the design work on the shoes himself. Due to the more limited volume on some of these collaborations resale on these shoes can be quite high. On the resale site StockX, the shoes can move for 400% of their original retail price of around $200 a pair.  Scott was estimated in a Forbes article to earn about $10 million a year from the Nike deal alone. However, this may underrepresent the true value of the deal, as it likely help get him more collaborations with other companies.3

Travis Scott X Nike Air Force 1 Low4

            This brings us to ‘Fortnite’ and Scott’s in game concert. In April of 2020 Scott hosted a concert inside the video game. This was just a few months at the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic. People were certainly looking for ways to virtually connect, and this provided an opportunity. Unlike viewing a virtual concert through YouTube or Netflix party this really puts you at the concert. Since it takes place in an online video game environment each player has their own avatar which have text or voice conversations with other players, move around, and dance.5 This concert had huge viewership numbers. With five total shows Epic, Fortnite’s developer, stated they had 27.7 million  unique viewers with a total of 45.8 million views.6 However, even those numbers during the event don’t fully cover the total scope of how many people have viewed this event. As of writing this blog Travis Scott’s YouTube page with a listed 14.1 million subscribers has a recording of the event which has over 143 million views.7 This is not to mention other prominent YouTube channels which have recordings of their content creator experiencing the event. LazarBeam with 18.5 million subscribers has a reaction to the event at over 17 million views.8 Ninja with 24.2 million subscribers has a reaction with over 13 million views.9 As a final example Pokimane with 6.5 million subscribers has a reaction with just over 4 million views.10

Scott’s performance in ‘Fortnite’3

            Scott spent months going back and forth with Epic on designing the experience. This allowed Scott to do things one couldn’t do in an ordinary concert. For instance, Scott begins by falling from the sky. Also, Scott’s avatar was 1,000 times taller than the players in game.  As Scott put it “It was an opportunity to go to the max, to create a world that permits won’t let you do, fire marshals won’t let you do, building codes won’t let you do”. Scott grossed roughly $20 million from the event including merchandise sales.3

            Scott’s next large collaboration came a couple of months later in September this time to make an impact with another area impacted by the pandemic, food. More specifically, McDonalds, which during Q2 of 2020 saw 8.7% decrease sales compared to the previous year. This was impacted by the chain shutting dining rooms and people staying home. However, Q3 of 2020 saw a 4.6% increase. While operational changes like reduced wait time at drives throughs helped another key component was a partnership with Travis Scott.11

            The Travis Scott meal was the first celebrity on a McDonalds menu since their 1992 collaboration with Michael Jordan.11 The meal consisted of a Quarter Pounder with cheese, bacon, and lettuce, medium fries with BBQ Sauce, and a Sprite for six dollars. Notably as you may have notice this didn’t add a single new ingredient to McDonald’s kitchen.12Even just consisting of traditional McDonald’s ingredients, demand for the Travis Scott meal was so high that certain ingredients in Quarter Pounders sold out during the promotion. Also, near the end of the promotion on September 22nd, 2020 the deal became an app only purchase. 13 This likely contributed to a 20% increase in downloads of the McDonald’s app during September 15th, 2020 to September 30th, 2020.11

Scott next to a poster of his Travis Scott Meal3

            Like the earlier collaborations, Scott had a large creative influence. After seeing an Instagram post by Scott about a trip to McDonald’s, the company executives reached out. In a true 2020 fashion they then worked it out over Zoom meetings during the summer. The meal isn’t arbitrary, Scott specifically picked it as his favorite meal he’s been ordering from McDonald’s since he was kid. Scott worked on the TV commercial providing hand drawn animation for it and writing some of the script including “Tell them Cactus Jack sent you .” Cactus Jack in this case is a nickname for Scott.He also worked on getting the rights to produce merchandise for the collaboration including a McNugget-shaped body pillow. The merchandise likely ended up being the big prize. Forbes estimated a $5 million dollar payout for the traditional endorsement. That contrasts with an estimated $15 million from the merchandise deal.3

             Scott has since done a couple more collaborations. In October of 2020 he announced a creative collaboration with Sony for the PlayStation 5.14 Earlier this month in March 2021 he released a collaboration with Anheuser-Busch called Cacti Agave Spiked Seltzer. Naturally, the product is already sold out online.15 From shoes, videogames, fast food, and a lot of other ventures Travis Scott seems running from one success after another. Crucially, he has always made sure these were true collaborations utilizing him creatively as an artist. In some cases, like the ‘Fortnite’ concert, he is also innovating with new forms of digital performance art. This is not to mention potentially working to redefine the nature of endorsements between companies and celebrities. If you are looking for the future of company collaborations, well simply look to Cactus Jack.

Catci Agave Spiked Seltzer14

1 Elibert, M. (2020, February 28). Laced up: Travis scott cements his influence on sneaker culture with nike sb dunk. Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/lifestyle/9325546/laced-up-travis-scott-nike-sb-dunk-collaboration

2 Travis Scott. (2021, March 09). Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.grammy.com/grammys/artists/travis-scott/18112

3 Brown, A. (2020, December 01). How hip-hop superstar travis scott has become corporate america’s brand whisperer. Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/abrambrown/2020/11/30/how-hip-hop-superstar-travis-scott-has-become-corporate-americas-brand-whisperer/?sh=7921a77d74e7

4 Nike air Force 1 ‘Travis SCOTT’ release date. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.nike.com/launch/t/air-force-1-travis-scott

5 Needleman, S. (2020, June 24). Welcome to ‘fortnite’-enjoy the concert. Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/welcome-to-fortniteenjoy-the-concert-11593004563

6 Thier, D. (2020, April 28). A staggering number of people saw FORTNITE’S Travis Scott ‘astronomical’ event. Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2020/04/28/a-staggering-number-of-people-saw-fortnites-travis-scott-astronomical-event/?sh=55b95a347b41

7 TravisScottXX. (2020, April 26). Travis Scott and fortnite PRESENT: ASTRONOMICAL (Full event video). Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYeFAlVC8qU

8 BEST event EVER (travis Scott). (2020, April 23). Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0Xe4DF41LI

9 NinjasHyper. (2020, April 24). THE FORTNITE TRAVIS Scott event was INSANE! W/ drlupo, Couragejd & SYPHERPK. Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq3iYRr2q3U

10 Pokimane. (2020, April 24). FORTNITE travis Scott Event REACTION Ft. tsm myth – POKIMANE. Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_krWs8nkmrA

11 Haddon, H., & Maidenberg, M. (2020, October 08). McDonald’s boosts sales with faster DRIVE-THROUGHS and Travis Scott. Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/mcdonalds-boosts-sales-with-faster-drive-throughs-and-travis-scott-11602158413

12 Taylor, K. (2020, September 13). McDonald’s Travis SCOTT campaign is a brilliant marketing ploy that creates massive buzz – without adding a single menu item. Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.businessinsider.com/mcdonalds-travis-scott-campaign-is-a-brilliant-marketing-ploy-2020-9

13 Wiener-Bronner, D. (2020, September 16). McDonald’s new ‘Travis Scott MEAL’ is in short supply at some restaurants. Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/16/business/mcdonalds-travis-scott-meal-shortage/index.html

14 Travis Scott announces ‘creative collaboration’ with Sony to promote the Playstation 5. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/other/travis-scott-announces-creative-collaboration-with-sony-to-promote-the-playstation-5/ar-BB1alfwz

15 Kevin_stank. (2021, March 19). Anheuser-Busch CEO Says Travis Scott-backed CACTI Hard seltzer sold out after debut this week. Retrieved March 30, 2021, from https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/17/anheuser-busch-ceo-on-success-of-travis-scott-backed-cacti-hard-seltzer-.html

7 comments

  1. olivia_levy8 · ·

    Cool and different idea for a blog. I think it is only right to start with an honest review of the Cacti seltzers. For me, and from what others were saying online, it was definitely a miss. Overall the strawberry was the best and I was unimpressed by the lime.

    Moving past that, I think that it is interesting how Travis Scott is the face of these unique collaborations. I also think that social media plays a large role in promoting these collaborations not through branded marketing strategies but through everyday people talking about them. I am very disconnected from the gaming world but still knew about the Fortnite concert from friends, Twitter, etc. I also was made aware of the McDonald’s collaboration mainly through TikTok content of people ordering the meal at the drive through. Great blog and analysis of Cactus Jack.

  2. Nice post. I’m really amazed at how well some of the big stars in various industries have really leveraged new media in novel ways to promote themselves. Although he’s a bit more established now, I read Kevin Hart’s autobiography and was impressed at his level of ingenuity back in the day.

  3. alexcarey94 · ·

    Travis Scott is what they would call a true business man. I really like this post and the influence that celebrities have over the public. I think it is very cool to see the span at which Travis Scott has stretched to promote various types of products- from retail, to food, to gaming, to alcoholic beverage industry. I think what this article shows is that his authenticity really helps in brand promotion. The fact that for every item you listed above directly involves Travis Scott with choosing items to promote and helping with the design makes it appealing to consumers. “You can eat exactly what Travis Scott eats at McDonalds!” Is a far stronger promotion than having Scott appear on a commercial in a general promotion with no direct tie. Looking forward to seeing what other collaborations are coming up in the future for him!

    As a side note- @olivialevy8 I also tried the seltzers and was also not a huge fan. They were sold out everywhere around me so my roommate drove to another town to get them (shows the power of celebrity influence when the store has various other seltzer options) and I was disappointed with the taste hahaha.

  4. therealerindee · ·

    @williammooremba please tell me you bump Travis Scott on the daily. I expect an answer in class.
    Anyways, this was a really awesome analysis of the true impact of a celebrity collab. My mind was blown with the Fortnite concert. I remember when I first heard about it I thought it was genius and I hope Travis came up with idea himself because that’s visionary level. The viewing stats you gave were incredible and something that would obviously never be possible with an in-person event. It will be very interesting to see how celebs will continue to leverage their status to expand outside of their “home” industry. We see this very often with people in the music industry, and with the rise of social media I aspect it to expand much further. Awesome post!

  5. Great post William!!! I will go as far to the say my favorite post that I have read this semester. I am very interested to know the answer to @therealerindee question as well. I have been going to McDonald’s since I was a kid and can’t remember ever ordering a quarter pounder until… The Cactus Jack meal hit stores in 2020. You pointed it out perfectly, there is nothing unique about the meal other than it is what Travis Scott eats. I had not heard about the Fortnite concert, probably due to my lack of activity on social media prior to this class, but quickly added it to my watch later on YouTube. I do hope that it was better than his performance at “The Big Game” in 2019, his use of autotune does not translate well to live performance however it does translate well to my car stereo on my way to Fulton hall.

  6. lourdessanfeliu · ·

    I really enjoyed your blog post, as Samuel said it is one of the best ones I have ready this semester! Very interesting to see the impact of celebrities and the way in which they collaborate with brands through multiple mediums.

  7. Andrae Allen · ·

    A Fortnite concert? A year later and I’m just now hearing about this!? Okay, even though I just watched it on YouTube I’m still impressed and with the level of creativity. Definitely appreciate all the knowledge nuggets in this post! Great depth when sourcing statistics. For me the best part was reading this post days after Erin brought this up during our open discussions and still being intrigued.

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