The summer’s most absurd TikTok trend has turned a McDonald’s mascot into a big promotional seller for millions of meals and milkshakes.
- On June 12, Mcdonald’s launched a limited-time new line of toys and food, themed after its mascot Grimace, to celebrate his 52 birthday.
- In the weeks that followed, a new TikTok trend called #GrimaceShake began to accumulate hundreds of millions of views, with the hashtag eventually growing to 2.4 billion views.
- TikTokers would make comedy videos of them trying the purple “Grimace Shake” before hard-cutting to the comedians convulsing on the ground, faking their deaths, or exploding.
- The first of these videos was posted by Knoxville-based social media manager Austin Frazier on June 13, with him passing out after taking a single drink of the purple milkshake.
Why It’s Important
As strange as the videos are, the TikTok trend proved quite successful for Mcdonald’s. The company wanted a viral success, and it got one, albeit not in the form it expected.
“What may seem like a negative expression is actually a positive reflection of their ability to connect with a generation. It’s getting the views, it’s getting the laughs and, as the viral trend grows, it’s getting the sales,” Chapman University Adjunct Professor Matthew Prince tells CNN.
These absurdist comedy videos were not created by McDonald’s. The company’s social media director Guillaume Huin tells Forbes that it was not sure at the time if it should address the TikTok trend at all, preferring to let its innocent fictional mascot talk to fans through its social media accounts.
However, the company ultimately decided to lean into it. On June 27, McDonald’s official Twitter account jokingly responded to the trend saying, “Me pretending I don’t see the grimace shake trend” in Grimace’s voice. Huin praised the videos as “a level of genius creativity and organic fun that I could never dream about or plan for.”
“Our fans truly brought their version of Grimace’s birthday through the lens of the shake in really unexpected and fun ways, and so we’re here for it,” says McDonald’s vice president of marketing Jennifer Healan.
The Grimace promotion officially ended on June 29, with the mascot tweeting out a final message on July 6, saying, “You made me feel so special [thank you].” Some stores are still selling the popular milkshake while supplies last. The popularity of the trend could result in a similar promotion for Grimace’s 53rd birthday next June, but nothing has been announced.