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From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

Szechuan Sauce Drop

Finalist in Launch Campaign

Entered in Food & Beverage


Increase app downloads and in-app McNugget sales with a social-led, limited-time program. 

Strategy and Execution

Since its original release in 1998, Szechuan Sauce has been the most sought-after condiment in the McDonald's pantheon, with fans willing to visit multiple stores and wait in long lines to try to get their hands on a packet. And once they do, it's likely to turn up on resale sites like eBay and StockX, going for thousands of dollars – the ultimate McDonald's status symbol.


To create a rush of excitement for the return of Szechuan Sauce in 2022, we leaned into this unique collectibility by mimicking the visual and communication style of another type of popular product re-releases: sneakers.

We started with stylish posts hinting that something BIG was dropping soon. And since every sneakerhead needs a reliable plug, we posted the Community Manager's phone number on our social accounts, encouraging fans to text them for all the inside info they'd need to prepare – over the course of several exchanges with the CM character, fans would ultimately receive confirmation that Szechuan Sauce would return, a heads-up on the release date, and a reminder to download the app prior to launch day to get your hands on the goods.

To feed into the hype-beast mentality even further, instead of a single look, we designed a collectible suite of five limited-edition sauce packets that would have people returning to the McDonald's app day after day to collect them all.


Results were huge, with 420 million impressions across all channels, and our Sauce Drop launch tweet beating out Super Bowl content to deliver the highest Engagement Rate of 2022. By focusing communications on organic social posts and earned media, the Szechuan Sauce Drop became McDonald’s most cost-efficient app download campaign ever.

On launch day (3/31), app downloads reached a single-day high for 2022 at 133k (a nearly 50% increase over the previous day), and 19k of those customers ordered Szechuan Sauce in their very first app order. 

After 2 days, half the Szechuan Sauce had already sold out, and restaurants nationwide saw a 9% lift in McNugget sales on average over the course of the campaign. Twice during the flight (3/31 and 4/4), we also set new yearly highs for the percentage of app orders per restaurant per day (13.5% and 14.1% respectively). 

By the time the sauce was gone from McDonald’s stores, packets appeared on resell sites like eBay and StockX for as much as $5000.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Bodega @ Wieden+Kennedy New York, McDonald's


Entry Credits