How AKIRA Hooked Up With McDonald’s


A huge international conglomerate like McDonald's isn't known for working with local companies when it comes to its marketing efforts, which is why AKIRA co-founder Jon Cotay thought it was a joke when he received a cold call from one of their reps in early April.

But that conversation led to an idea to create a conceptualized campaign around McDonald's new Drinkcessories menu and fashion.

"Even for someone as big as McDonald's, they were open to partnering with a smaller business," Cotay says. "We're used to doing grassroots campaigns, and they, of course, are used to big projects."

The two companies decided to throw a fashion show on June 8th at the downtown Rock & Roll McDonalds to help promote the restaurant's new Drinkcessories menu. The models held different flavors on the runway that were meant to complement the clothing -- a strawberry drink for casual wear and a frappe for something fancier.

McDonald's stepped back and let AKIRA handle many of the major details, such as the invitation. The event attracted around 120 people -- a mix of media, tastemakers and store owners -- creating a fashionable crowd of people munching on burgers and fries who may not have been able to tell you the last time they stepped foot inside a McDonald's.

"It was important that they let us handle that end of things because that's what we were able to bring to the table, knowing what's happening pulse-wise in the city," Cotay says.

But merging the two companies' cultures was hardly an automatic process.

Whereas McDonald's might hold multiple conference calls and meetings, AKIRA has more or less mastered the art of hosting fashion shows and aren't afraid to wing it on the night of the event.

"They definitely learned how we work and vice versa, we learned how we can contribute to what they do, so overall it was a great experience and hopefully a springboard to do more collaborations in the future," Cotay says. "They were definitely excited how it turned out, because it's a bit more outside the box of what they're used to."

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