Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Demand from Indonesian K-Pop fans forces McDonald’s branches to shut

South Korean boyband fans overwhelmed the fast food eateries with delivery drivers fighting to collect their orders.

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Several Indonesian branches of burger giant McDonald’s found themselves so overwhelmed with demand for the newly launched BTS Meal they had to close.

So many people wanted the meal inspired by the Korean boyband that there were fears it could cause a new Covid hotspot.

“We temporarily closed four of six McDonald’s stores here in Semarang for a couple of days,” Fajar Purwoto, the Indonesian city’s public order agency head, told reporters. “I don’t want Semarang to be in the Covid-19 red zone again.”

The BTS special meal consists of 10 chicken nuggets, fries, a Coke, plus sweet chilli and Cajun sauces.

The enormous and devoted fanbase of the seven-member K-Pop phenomenon that is BTS, ensured the takeout meal would be devoured with ecstasy by those lucky enough to score the fastest and most determined Gojek delivery rider.

The band’s phenomenal followers helped the band’s last single Butter to break global records when it was released last month.

The boys also beat superstars like pop royalty Taylor Swift to be named best-selling album of 2020.

Their fans – and there are millions around the world – are exceedingly loyal, and protective. Using their brand in the wrong way can mean trouble, as one South Korean MP found out this week.

Ryu Ho-jeong, the country’s youngest MP, used an image of tattooed BTS member Jungkook on Tuesday to make a point about easing restrictions on tattooing. South Korean laws mean only doctors are allowed to do tattoos.

But fans were angry she had used the picture, saying she had dragged the star into politics. She apologised on Thursday, after facing widespread criticism on social media.

However, when fans approve, like the partnership with McDonald’s currently being rolled out in 49 countries, it can mean massive success.

According to news site Business Insider, footfall in US branches increased by 12% in the first week it was launched.

So it was no surprise that when the meal launched in K-Pop-mad Indonesia on Wednesday, it was an immediate hit.

Because of Covid-19, however, people could not go to the branches themselves. Instead, they used delivery services, sending riders to the outlets in droves.

Photos show riders cramming into branches, with some in the capital Jakarta saying they had waited more than two hours to collect their orders.

Police in Jakarta said in a statement that a total of 32 branches were temporarily closed across the city. There were also closures in other parts of the country.

However, McDonald’s was quick to remind people that the meal will still be available for the next month so there is no need to rush.

McDonald’s Indonesia associate director, Sutji Lantika, said that the safety of customers remained the highest priority.

Indonesian Covid cases are currently on the rise, with nearly 8,000 infections reported on Wednesday – the highest since 26 February.

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