32 McD's Indonesia outlets ordered by police to close after frenzy over BTS Meal

McDonald's Indonesia has recently been asked by the Jakarta Metro Police to discontinue its BTS Meal after 32 outlets were found to have violated health protocols, the police said in a statement on its website. According to multiple media reports including Reuters, New York Times and BBC, the limited-edition meal by the K-pop group resulted in a buying frenzy among fans. Images online showed numerous delivery riders gathering outside McDonald's outlets, sparking concerns about COVID-19 clusters in the country. The one-of-a-kind menu "tour" hit the shores of Indonesia on 26 May, following the announcement of McDonald's partnership with BTS in April.

According to the Jakarta Metro Police, McDonald's is required to implement social distancing arrangements for consumers in each of the 32 outlets involved, limiting the capacity to 50%. Six outlets in Central Jakarta, six in West Jakarta, five in North Jakarta, nine in South Jakarta and six in East Jakarta were subjected to police sanctions, the statement said. The outlet managers were also requested by the police to comply with health protocols in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the capital.

Multiple media reports including Channel NewsAsia quoted Fajar Purwoto, the Indonesian city's public order agency head, saying that four of six McDonald's stores in Semarang were temporarily closed for a couple of days. Channel NewsAsia added that Purwoto did not want Semarang to be in the COVID-19 red zone again. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to McDonald's Indonesia for a comment regarding the situation. 

Indonesia was not the first to witness a frenzy over the release of the BTS meal. In Malaysia, it was reported that long queues formed at McDonald's outlets as fans flocked to purchase the meals. The Star said social distancing rules were not observed and the Malay Mail also reported that some netizens were worried about a potential cluster forming. 

Aside from the snaking queues, Malaysians were also spotted to be reselling empty food packaging and merchandise from the BTS meal on Shopee and Carousell. A search by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE found that some resellers have priced the food packaging from RM10 to RM50 online, while the merchandise is being sold between RM69 to RM455. 

While Indonesia and Malaysia already witnessed the aftermath of the launch, fans in Singapore were met with a delay in the meal's launch. McDonald's Singapore pushed back the launch of its BTS Meal to 21 June this year. McDonald's announced then on Facebook and Instagram that in view of Phase 2 ("Heightened Alert"), it was shifting the launch of the BTS Meal. While some netizens were disappointed with the news, others were also relieved that safety was being prioritised. 

Aside from McDonald's, other fast-food chains have hopped onto the BTS hype. Subway Malaysia jumped on the BTS hype with a punny Facebook post announcing its Veggie Tambah Sub (VTS) sandwich. "Annyeongha-sayur" (Hello vegetables), the brand said. Using the iconic introduction of one of BTS' members Kim Taehyung, also known as V, it added: "My name's VTS. I am good sub." V previously said a similar line in an interview with talk show host Stephen Colbert on "The Late Show". "Hi guys, My name's V. I am good boy," the K-pop artist said. 

Photo courtesy: 123RF

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