With a predicted announcement date of November 14, the second presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump will get underway like a determined engine chugging up the funicular, spewing invective and appealing to the worst instincts of the American voter.
No telling who Trump will be running against, so he needs an early angle on which to pitch his campaign. In that respect, he might take a page from McDonald’s playbook for its elusive McRib sandwich and tell voters this is their last chance to vote for him and to Make America Great Again—as he defines “great.”
Since its launch in 1981, the McRib has disappeared more than Harry Houdini, but always makes a comeback, usually when the price of beef and chicken is high relative to pork, as an article in “The Street” points out.
The ersatz barbecue sandwich’s avid fans always show up to buy, even keeping track of appearances on a special website, McRib Locator. In that respect, they are much the same as Trump’s rabid voter base, who can’t wait to see his appearances so they can excoriate and rant along with him.
It’s a perfect analog: the McRib is a lump of pork formed into the shape of ribs, while Trump is a lump of rich white jerk formed into a presidential candidate. A manufactured product that only America could produce and actually sell.
Besides being a junk-food junkie, Trump is no stranger to marketing. A “last chance” appeal is almost certain to work with those who still haven’t gotten over the anger Trump ginned up after the 2020 election and who lack the foresight to imagine that there actually might be a better Republican candidate.
McDonald’s is hedging its position about the finality of the farewell tour of the McRib, saying of this iteration, "Like any true farewell tour, we’re hoping this isn’t a 'goodbye' but a 'see you later.' Because as our McRib fans have experienced time and time again: you never know when—or if—the McRib is coming back," the chain added.
Likewise, even if Trump is unsuccessful, this 2024 campaign run extends his brand and his legacy. We don’t know when—or if—he is coming back. Whether that matters even as much as The McRib has mattered to American life is something for the historians to puzzle out.
Bill Huey is president of Strategic Communications and the author of Carbon Man (Kindle, 2010).