EMAILED ON August 22, 2019 BY Conor Grant

Mickey D’s is the latest company to hop on the branded podcast bandwagon

In 2017, McDonald’s underestimated demand for a re-release of its teriyaki-tinged Szechuan Sauce. Then, as diners fought to get their paws on those precious packets, chaos followed: a Change.org petition calling for the condiment’s return garnered more than 45k supporters.

Then, Mickey D’s did them one better. In addition to whipping up more dip, it launched “The Sauce,” a 3-episode podcast “investigating” what went wrong. 

It was hardly an exposé, but the “Serial”-inspired series was a hit… and McDonald’s isn’t the only brand to start streaming.

Brands are getting on the mic … and reaping the rewards

Consumers who seem unwilling to watch YouTube ads seem to have no problem tuning in to branded podcasts. 

Even in a competitive space — estimates show there are about 750k podcasts — “The Sauce” peaked at #94 on iTunes’ top-100 chart. 

Another branded success, “Inside Trader Joe’s,” hit #5 on the same chart… and you can bet your Two-Buck Chuck there were some product placements.

But storytelling is what matters

Media critics worry brand-sponsored podcasts blur the line between advertising and entertainment, with some going so far as to denounce them as propaganda. 

But others point out that something sounding like a commercial is going to be a turnoff, and listeners will tune out and move on.