It has recently become the ultimate goal for marketers to leverage TikTok trends to capture the attention of millions and boost sales.

One such trend, known as the Grimace Shake, has caused quite a stir and has even contributed to a significant increase in McDonald’s sales.

The trend involves individuals pretending to suffer from the consequences of drinking McDonald’s Grimace dessert shake, a limited-time offering released in honor of McDonald’s purple mascot’s birthday.

Videos featuring the Grimace shake often begin with individuals expressing excitement about trying the shake and wishing Grimace a happy birthday.

However, as soon as they take a sip, the camera cuts to their dramatic and exaggerated reactions, with users pretending to pass out or even die, often accompanied by props like trash cans or car hoods.

The shake’s purple contents are usually depicted spilling out of the victim’s mouth, resembling vomit or even purple blood.

The Grimace Shake has managed to “claim the lives” of internet celebrities like Zach King and Brent Rivera, and even Courteney Cox’s dog, Lily.

This dark and graphic trend has garnered immense popularity on TikTok, with the hashtag #grimaceshake receiving a staggering 2.9 billion views.

The trend has not only captivated millions of TikTokers but has also proven to be a marketing goldmine for McDonald’s.

The fast-food giant reported that the Grimace shake trend, along with other factors such as its chicken menu items and new digital customer experience offerings, contributed to a significant increase in sales for the second quarter.

Specifically, it helped boost McDonald’s second-quarter sales by over 10% in the U.S. and nearly 12% globally, the company said Thursday.

“The McDonald’s brand has never been stronger and I remain inspired by the ability of the McDonald’s System to create cultural conversations and develop industry-leading innovations,” Chris Kempczinski, McDonald’s CEO, said in a statement.

McDonald’s even responded to the trend in a recent tweet, saying, “meee pretending I don’t see the grimace shake trendd.”

McDonald’s Denies Involvement in Viral Grimace Shake Trend

McDonald’s has denied any involvement in the creation of the viral phenomenon.

In a LinkedIn post on July 12, Guillaume Huin, McDonald’s social media director, said the trend 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.”

He emphasized that the trend was entirely fan-driven and originated from TikToker Austin Frazier, whose 10-second video kick-started the trend.

Although the rationale behind faking deaths after consuming the shake remains unclear, this bizarre and seemingly negative trend has remarkably become a public relations bonanza for McDonald’s.

Huin attributed the success to the “brilliant creativity, unfiltered fun, peak absurdist Gen Z humor” and “the way a new generation of creators and consumers play with brands.”

Grimace, who debuted in a 1971 McDonald’s commercial as Ronald McDonald’s best friend, has become one of the many unconventional mascots that have gained popularity on social media.

Similarly, Duolingo, the language-learning app, has used Gen Z’s absurdist humor to its advantage.

Duolingo’s mascot, a green owl named Duo, has amassed over 7.2 million followers on TikTok with videos that range from professing love for pop star Dua Lipa to issuing veiled threats to users who skip their daily lessons.

All in all, the Grimace shake trend is a prime example of the power of TikTok trends and their influence on marketing strategies.

Marketers Are Increasingly Using TikTok to Boost Sales

With its short-form videos and endless creativity, TikTok has quickly become a hotbed for viral trends, challenges, and dances.

But beyond entertainment, businesses have also discovered the immense potential that TikTok holds for marketing campaigns.

TikTok boasts an engaged and rapidly growing user base, with over 1 billion active users worldwide.

The platform predominantly attracts Gen Z and millennial users, making it an ideal space for businesses targeting these demographics.

What sets TikTok apart from other social media platforms is its emphasis on user-generated content and authenticity.

TikTok users love to engage with brands that understand their preferences and values, making it crucial for companies to adopt an organic approach when using TikTok for marketing.

TikTok’s algorithm is also advantageous for marketers. The platform’s “For You” page algorithm ensures that users are exposed to content that aligns with their interests, even if they aren’t following the account.

This means that well-crafted and engaging videos have the potential to go viral and reach a wider audience beyond the brand’s existing followers. So, even small businesses with limited followers can gain substantial visibility and exposure through TikTok.

Furthermore, TikTok’s advertising options have expanded, providing businesses with more opportunities to promote their products or services.

From in-feed ads that appear seamlessly in users’ feeds to branded hashtag challenges that encourage user participation, businesses have various avenues to connect with their target audience.

According to a Statista report, TikTok and social video are the second leading consumer trend worldwide as of April 2023.

Per the report, 57% of marketers worldwide view TikTok as the leading consumer trend, only second to generative AI, which 59% of marketers believe is dominating consumer trends.

Image Source: Statista

However, it is worth noting that TikTok has yet to offer the largest return on investment (ROI) for marketers.

According to the report, Facebook has the largest ROI among all social media platforms at 22%. TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram rank second in terms of ROI with an estimated return on investment of 16%.

Image Source: Statista

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