Welcome to McDonald’s. Would You Like a Podcast With Those Fries?

With podcasts rising in popularity, it’s no surprise that companies are producing their own. What’s more surprising is that people are actually listening to them.

The hit NPR podcast “Serial” was the audio investigation that launched a thousand true-crime dramas, inspiring podcasters across the country to attempt ambitious reporting projects with gritty subject matter. There were “Dirty John” and “Hollywood & Crime,” “Death in Ice Valley” and “Atlanta Monster.”

And then there was “The Sauce.”


That three-episode “investigative podcast” was released last year by the media company Gizmodo and had somewhat lower stakes than the exoneration of a convicted murderer. With an eerie soundtrack meant to recall “Serial,” the show examined the “mystery” of how McDonald’s underestimated demand for a popular dipping sauce, enraging thousands of its customers.

The twist? The hard-boiled investigator scrutinizing that sauce shortage was McDonald’s itself.

“The Sauce” was a branded podcast that McDonald’s paid Gizmodo to produce as a tongue-in-cheek apology to disappointed customers. While it’s no exposé, the show offers a vivid illustration of how companies are increasingly using the tropes of popular podcasts in their own audio projects. These are not advertisements, exactly, but subtle brand-building efforts intended to entertain as well as persuade.

Read more at New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/20/business/media/branded-podcasts.html