We Didn’t Plant Grimace Shake Trend

  • A McDonald’s social media director has denied rumors the company planted the “Grimace Shake” trend.
  • Guillaume Huin says it was “all from the fans” and he initially hesitated to have McDonald’s join in.
  • The TikTok trend saw users faking injury or even death after drinking the limited-edition milkshake.

The viral “Grimace Shake” TikTok trend generated massive interest in the limited-edition Grimace Birthday Meal at McDonald’s. Convenient as that was for the company, it wasn’t a plant, a social media director at the fast food giant says.

Guillaume Huin, the social media director for brand content and engagement at McDonald’s US, took to LinkedIn on Thursday to offer an “insider view” at how the company handled the explosive trend.

“If you think we planted the grimace shake trend, thank you. So much. But you think way too highly of us. This was a level of genius creativity and organic fun that I could never dream about or plan for — it was all from the fans, and the fans only, and the initial spark came from Austin Frazier,” Huin wrote in his post, referring to the person who started the trend, which involved people faking injury or even death from drinking the purple milkshake.

The #grimaceshake hashtag has amassed 2.4 billion views on TikTok. Huin added in his post that it generated “billions in reach, millions in engagements, millions of mentions” online and was a top trend on Twitter, TikTok, and Snapchat on several days.

It’s not clear how the viral hit affected sales. McDonald’s didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

As the trend started to take off, McDonald’s ultimately broke its silence on the matter with a photo of Grimace at his birthday celebration with the caption, “meee pretending i don’t see the grimace shake trendd.”

The message is implied to be written from the point of view of the furry purple mascot, who has been said to embody either a milkshake or a taste bud.

Huin says the decision to jump on the bandwagon wasn’t always a given, adding that there was “immense doubt.”

“If you think we would never acknowledge the trend, well, I thought so too at first, so I won’t blame you.”

He said his first instinct was that he wasn’t “sure we should jump in” to what had become a viral trend. “It took us a bit of time to process what was happening,” he said in the LinkedIn post.

“The campaign was already wildly successful, both on a social and business standpoint, so why would we take the ‘risk’ to jump in? But hours of watching, reading the comments, trying to learn and genuinely understand helped us see what this was about: brilliant creativity, unfiltered fun, peak absurdist gen z humor, just the way a new generation of creators and consumers play with brands.”

He went on to describe the thought process behind McDonald’s response: “Saying nothing felt disconnected, encouraging it felt self-serving, so we just decided to show our fans that we see them and their creativity in a sweet, candid and genuine way, as grimace would.”

The limited-edition Grimace Birthday Meal, which was available last month, featured a Big Mac or 10-piece Chicken McNuggets, medium fries, and a purple shake matching the iconic mascot’s color.

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