This is why Taco Bell and McDonalds are suddenly talking about Mercury in retrograde

  • McDonald’s is giving out free sandwiches while Mercury is in retrograde. 
  • Taco Bell and Del Taco have also adopted astrology terms in recent promotions.
  • Astrology is a way to reach young customers without paying a celebrity spokesperson.

McDonald’s is the latest fast-food chain to offer a promotion centered around astrology. The chain is giving customers a free McChicken or McDouble when they buy medium fries to offer “comfort during this intergalactic mayhem.”

The intergalactic mayhem McDonald’s is referring to is Mercury in retrograde, the phenomenon that occurs several times each year when Mercury appears to be moving in the opposite direction of its typical movement relative to Earth. For followers of astrology, Mercury retrograde is a risky time when ” technology, communication, travel, logic, and information all get disrupted,” according to Horoscope.com.

McDonald’s is only the most recent chain to use the language of Mercury retrograde to talk to customers. In 2021, Taco Bell offered free Mercury RetroGrande Nachos for


Uber Eats

orders that reached a minimum price. Taco Bell embraced astrology even further with an ad identifying certain menu preferences as “such a Virgo” or “serious Libra vibes,” and a Twitter thread from its main account linking each menu item to a different sign. In January, Del Taco introduced its own Mercury Retrograde promotion for rewards members, which would be available each time the planet entered retrograde in 2022.

Adopting astrology terms to reach customers is an easy business decision for fast-food chains, Mark Kalinowski, CEO of Kalinowski Equity Research, told Insider. Astrology is generally popular with Gen Z and millennial generations, so incorporating that language is a way to reach younger customers, Kalinowski said. Attracting a younger customer base is key for chains to establish longevity, and brands have made other attempts to draw in young customers with celebrity endorsements and McDonald’s Famous Orders campaign.

There’s another, even simpler reason, though. “No one owns the rights to being a Pisces,” or other astrological phenomena, Kalinowski said. It’s less expensive than paying a spokesperson, an advantage over Famous Orders and other celebrity partnerships.

Finally, people just like free things, Kalinowski said. In McDonald’s case, the deal is only available through its app, and adding app users typically means creating loyal customers who will spend more money over time. Customers want a free McChicken, and that’s a small price to pay for McDonald’s if they’ve created a lifelong customer. 

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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