To No One's Surprise, the McDonald's Pokemon Cards Promo Went Off the Rails
After 25 years, the Pokemon card craze is still going strong. That anniversary is actually causing pandemonium at McDonald's restaurants all over the U.S., with adults swooping in and buying as many Happy Meals as they can to get their hands on limited edition promo cards.
McDonald’s has been giving away special promotional packs of Pokemon Cards in Happy Meals (in other words, for children), and the cards have been hitting resale sites like eBay and others.
That scarcity has become such a problem that, according to Forbes, people have had to “shop around” different McDonald’s location to see if they even have the Happy Meal packs in stock.
I decided to go to McDonald's to grab some of the new Pokemon Card packs! Since you couldn't buy the packs separately I bought 10 happy meals and I'll be giving out the food to homeless in the area 😁
— ✨JT Valor 👑✨ (@JT_Valor) February 9, 2021
In response, McDonald’s released a statement addressing the problem:
We love seeing fans’ passion for our limited-time Happy Meal promotion celebrating 25 years of Pokémon. With such significant demand for our promotional Pokémon TCG cards, and some fans even going to extreme lengths to get them, we’re working quickly to address shortages and also strongly encouraging restaurants to set a reasonable limit on Happy Meals sold per customer. We want to offer the full Happy Meal experience to as many families as possible, and help ensure everyone is able to get in on the fun!
McDonald’s has since put a maximum purchase policy in place to both cut down on product scarcity and also potential food waste, since people have been buying the Happy Meals and just throwing the food away.
It also referred to its company policy not to sell promotions without a meal, but conceded that some restaurants might have been doing that through this process.
McDonald’s should have seen this coming, and probably did. This isn’t the first Pokemon-related promo it's done in the last 25 years. They knew what was going to happen. Pokemon cards are arguably the most universally sought-after collectible of the last two-plus decades. Add a "limited edition" stamp on the cards, and you have all of the makings of insane demand.
And McDonald’s is no stranger to a viral promotion. Remember when “Rick and Morty” fans almost started a riot at a California McDonald’s?
Right now, packs of the Pokemon cards are already selling on eBay. A single pack is currently on sale for $12.50, and a complete set of all of the cards is up for $42.99.
Creating a promotional campaign for something that's so widely beloved, with a fanbase we all know has the capability of obsession, always has the potential to get a little crazy. This was never going to end with a everyone buying the exact amount of Happy Meals their children need.