To celebrate the 2022 Lunar New Year, McDonald’s teamed up with Asian-American fashion designer Humberto Leon to create a virtual-reality experience: McDonald’s Hall of Zodiacs: 2022 Lunar New Year.

About the virtual exhibition

Featuring designs of each of the 12 zodiac animals, the digital exhibit is accessible exclusively via the McDonald’s Hall of Zodiac’s website. There, fans can browse the gallery through February 15, as well as have their horoscopes read (cause we all know throngs are clamoring for the world’s largest fast food chain to predict their future).

When asked about how he decided to partner with the fast-food chain, Leon said:

“Ever since I was young, McDonald’s has been woven into culture. And for Asian Americans, Lunar New Year is not only a time to celebrate with family and friends, but also gives us the perfect opportunity to share our cultural heritage with people throughout the various communities we call home.

Partnering with McDonald’s has been great, given the brand’s ongoing commitment to embracing and celebrating the universality of culture throughout the year, kicking off with Lunar New Year in a way that underscores the creativity and innovation of the Asian American community. To say I’m proud of this collaboration is an understatement as it’s an expression of my identity and the influences that have shaped it, to which I know many will relate.”

The growth of the metaverse

While McDonald’s has long celebrated cultural holidays, including Lunar New Year, this is the corporation’s first time to do so in the metaverse – and likely won’t be the last. Like many other brands, McDonald’s is realizing that the virtual reality world is growing (as the increase in purchases of VR headsets shows), and it doesn’t want to be behind the game. As Elizabeth Campbell, McDonald’s senior director of cultural engagement recently shared:

“This is… our first time celebrating a holiday in the metaverse and Leon was the perfect partner to bring to life traditional motifs, while adding in the bold and modern flavor for which Leon is known. The McDonald’s Hall of Zodiacs features Humberto’s distinctive style and cultural influence, within an immersive VR space that brings an all-new dimension to the Year of the Tiger.

We’re hoping to explore this cutting-edge approach for other cultural moments as a way to amplify and elevate diverse voices.”

Alongside the virtual exhibit’s opening, McDonald’s also handed out red envelopes (a Chinese tradition) containing prints of Leon’s Tiger design at select physical locations.

We commend the chain for attempting to remain digitally relevant, but McDonald’s foray into the metaverse shows just how out of touch big corporations are with younger generations. With 2-dimensional animal designs, a laggy interface, and user controls that only work part of the time, the Hall of Zodiacs screams clunky – not cool.