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When McDonald’s launched its “investigative podcast” The Sauce last year it was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek marketing move designed to cash in on the fast-growing appeal of podcasting. But the three-episode series had an unexpectedly large number of downloads and showed the fast food giant the potential of branded podcasts.

The New York Times says the Gizmodo-produced podcast “investigated” a shortage of a McDonald’s teriyaki-flavored dipping sauce. Days after its release, The Sauce hit No. 94 in the Apple Podcast chart. “The biggest thing that they wanted to get across was that they were very sorry,” show host Catherine LeClair told the New York Times.

The Times picks on the growing trend of branded podcasts with other companies including Facebook, New Balance, Trader Joe’s and General Electric producing their own shows. And while some critics say such podcasts are nothing more than modern day “propaganda” for big brands, experts say most of the successful branded podcasts offer some value to listeners. “What makes for a successful branded podcast are a lot of the things that make for a successful podcast period,” Gimlet president Matt Lieber told the paper. “If a brand wants to make a commercial that’s 20 minutes long, it will fail.”

Read the full story HERE.