On TikTok, McDonald’s Grimace Milkshakes inspire horror scenes

The scenes on social media are horrific. Hanging from the trunk of the sedan, a body of purple goop. another draped across a basketball hoop in purple-stained netting. A third splattered in the bathtub covered in dark handprints.

The liquid splattered across these panels is not blood. It’s a very purple McDonald’s milkshake.

The social media backlash has cropped up in recent weeks since McDonald’s released the Grimace Shake as part of its Grimace Birthday Meal, a menu item that highlights a bloblike purple player for Ronald McDonald’s trademark clown. The limited-edition drink has become a key component of a TikTok trend in which users concoct elaborate horror scenes — with Grimace as the implied killer.

Each video begins with a TikTok user pretending to give an upbeat shake review. It then cuts to a shot of a person drenched in drink—sometimes looking dead, sometimes turned into a zombie—to flashing lights and eerie music.

Is McDonald’s concerned that people are pretending to drown themselves in one of its products? Or paint one of her amulets as a murderer? Probably not, said Jonah Berger, associate professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

“This is free publicity,” he said. “Not only does it increase brand awareness, but it also makes the brand cooler among a key demographic, which is youth.”

McDonald’s acknowledged the trend Wednesday in posts on Tik Tok and Twitter. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

the The first videos It was posted on June 13 by Austin Frazier, a 28-year-old social media manager in Knoxville, Tennessee, who is not associated with McDonald’s. While scrolling on TikTok, he came across a video Food blogger Wayne Dang sampled the shake.

Inspiration struck. Go to McDonald’s and order one. Then, he pictures himself wishing Grimace a happy birthday and taking a sip. Afterwards, he lay on his kitchen floor and instructed his wife to turn the area into a “crime scene”, using the shaking as blood.

He said, “I put a little on my mouth and a little on the ground.” “I was like, ‘No, you have to get rid of everything.'” Mr. Frazier added that McDonald’s had not contacted him since the trend began. “They owe me a fat check for all the shakes they sold,” he joked.

Several fast food brands have released stunt items that seem designed for social sharing, such as Doritos Locos Tacos and Pizza Hut tacos. Hot dog stuffed crust pizza. In 2020, McDonald’s released a meal collaboration with Travis Scott that caused an internet frenzy.

Grimace Shake was likely another online attention-grabbing play, said Jared Watson, assistant professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business. The shake is a shocking color, and its flavor is not specified by the company, leaving it up for debate.

TikTok users have injected their absurd sophistication. “Part of this trend is an act of rebellion,” said Dr. Watson. “They’re saying, ‘We see what you’re doing,’ and we’re going to take it in a very different direction than you expected.”

However, they buy Grimace Shakes and at least take a sip. Online taste testers described the flavor as “Fruit flavored cough syrup” And “Purple, vanilla and stomach pain. “

This shake-up introduced many of the younger customers to Grimace, a character with a perpetually cheerful or miserable expression. He appears to be less well known than his colleagues, Hamburglar and Mayor McKees, and his identity has been a mystery since his first appearances in the 1970s. In 2012, The company said Grimace was “the embodiment of a milkshake”. Others have argued that Grimace is Giant taste bud.

Dylan Zetkus, 18, a content creator in Chicago, said he had never heard of Grimace before watching TikTok videos. Bought a large Grimace Shake for the purpose of participating in this trend.

“I didn’t want to do that at first, because you have to put milkshakes everywhere,” said Mr. Zitkus, who describes himself as lactose intolerant. “It’s cold. It’s unpleasant.”

He said he gave up after seeing other Grimace Shake videos pass five million views. He put on a white shirt and went to the park with a friend at about one o’clock in the morning the video It didn’t take long to shoot, but it did take some time to clean up.

“My neighbor saw me and said, ‘What are you doing?'” Mr. Zitkus said. “I love, long story short.”