April 21, 2024

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The Grimace shake meme mixes horror with McDonald’s in the latest TikTok trend

This week Lucas Robbins and 12 of his friends gathered in a sewer with 13 purple milkshakes and a plan to go viral.

the video Posted Monday on Robbins’ TikTok account, it begins in a McDonald’s parking lot in San Clemente, Calif., but cuts to a sewer, where teens lie shirtless and covered in melted purple jerks, some playing dead while others scream in panic. The video garnered 1.6 million views, but at a very messy cost to everyone involved.

“It got very sticky,” said Enzo Candoll, one of Robbins’ friends. “It was really bad… I got two towels, which wasn’t enough.”

It was just one of thousands of videos posted to TikTok as part of the “Grimace shake” trend featuring a berry-flavored drink named after the fast food chain’s furry purple mascot. McDonald’s released the shake-up on June 12, but it wasn’t until the TikTok trend caught fire last weekend that sales began.

This trend—which was started publicly not by McDonald’s marketing team, but by fans like Robbins—features people acting out horror movie-like scenes, usually scored with dramatic music and in some cases, elaborate plots. Videos posted on TikTok with the hashtag #GrimaceShake have been viewed 400 million times to date.

McDonald’s employees in New York City and Minneapolis said orders for Grimace shakes resulted in some stores running out of ice cream by midday.

“It started with great joy,” said Emily Downey, who works at McDonald’s in Brooklyn. “But as it went viral on TikTok, you could definitely see that there was a lot of business in terms of the Grimace meal, and even people just coming in to get, like, the shake on its own.”

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On Thursday, McDonald’s publicly acknowledged the trend for the first time, posting a video to its TikTok account of Grimace covering his eyes with the caption, “I pretend I don’t see the grimace rocking the trend.”

Wendy Zajak, director of marketing at Georgetown University, heard about the trend not through work but from her three Generation Z children.

“If I were a marketer trying to create a viral campaign, I don’t know that I would have said, ‘Hey, drink a milkshake and die,'” Zajac said. Ultimately, it increases sales. It makes people try purple milkshakes.”

The popularity of shake videos comes as restaurants are taking to social media, particularly TikTok, to reach younger audiences. The Mexican chain Chipotle has signed sponsorship deals with popular food TikTokers like Keith Lee, who has more than 13 million followers on the platform. Mediterranean restaurant chain Cava named the meals Some TikTok influencers.

Zajac said that corporate marketing does not fit into an organic trend when it comes to resonating with the public.

“The company’s line of something is not what goes viral She said. Brands will always want to control the message, but getting something to go viral isn’t easy. It’s risk and reward, and in this case, the reward is greater than the risk.”

This isn’t the first time McDonald’s has benefited from inadvertent viral marketing of one of its products. In 2020, the company’s “Travis Scott Meal” attracted attention when customers took to TikTok to post videos of themselves ordering the meal by launching the rapper’s song “Sicko Mode” into the drive-through.

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As with Travis Scott’s meal, Grimace’s shake-up trend boosted sales at the expense of wreaking havoc on its employees’ workplace, said Dilma Jofio, director of McDonald’s in D.C.

“Most of the people who buy them mention TikToks,” Jovio told The Post. “We sell hundreds every day. But it’s an inconvenience for the employees.”

Some customers posted videos of their friends pouring the shake over themselves in the restaurant’s lobby. in video Posted by user @lundonhala McDonald’s employees tell a customer who isn’t wearing a purple hooded shirt to get out of the restaurant and threaten to call security.

In California, Robbins wasn’t sure if he’d ever buy a shake again.

“Maybe another joke,” Robbins said. “But no, I wouldn’t buy it for my own pleasure.”