How Grimace horror became a McDonald’s win

TikTokers turned McDonald’s Grimace Shake into horror. It was engagement gold.

What happens when TikTok turns your brand into a horror movie? Free advertising.

Ronald McDonald

ICYMI: In June, McDonald’s launched a special meal with a purple milkshake to celebrate Grimace’s birthday — Grimace being its purple mascot that’s possibly a large anthropomorphic taste bud.

Shortly thereafter…

… TikTokers began posting lofi horror videos in which trying the Grimace Shake resulted in mayhem. Videos ranged from simple — taste testers gurgling purple goo — to more elaborate:

The hashtag #GrimaceShake currently has 2.7B views on TikTok, most of them from these videos.


… has achieved viral success with recent marketing gimmicks — its adult happy meals and Halloween Boo Buckets often sold out.

But this trend was started by a third party. TikToker Austin Frazier, inspired by a similar video of someone trying a Burger King Spider-Verse Whopper, posted the first video. Then, it took off organically.

McDonald’s ultimately responded by tweeting as Grimace, “meee pretending i don’t see the grimace shake trendd.”

How did this affect McDonald’s?

Jonah Berger, an associate professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, told The New York Times, “It’s not only raising awareness of the brand, but it makes the brand cooler among a key demographic, which is young people.”

Teens bought multiple shakes to dump on themselves, and Truist credited Grimace with same-store sales growth in Q2.

Guillaume Huin, McDonald’s social media director for brand content and engagement, tweeted that McDonald’s achieved “billions in reach, millions in engagements, [and] millions of mentions,” while people genuinely had fun.

Meanwhile, the trend has since spread to Cold Stone Creamery’s Barbie Shake, “yassifying” those who try it.

Fun fact: Grimace used to be the four-armed “Evil Grimace,” who stole milkshakes and beverages. In this commercial, Ronald McDonald tricks Grimace into falling into a pool. Could it be that Grimace was simply back for… revenge?

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