As the juggernaut of Barbenheimer has proved, the greatest advertising brands can hope for these days is the type that doesn’t get paid for. There’s only one hitch: they don’t get much say in how this turns out. For all Gen Z might roll their eyes at cringey corporate Twitter accounts, they’re as susceptible to marketing tricks as the rest of us. Their only demand is that they want to put their own stamp on it.
That is exactly what has happened this month when to much fanfare, McDonald’s released the Grimace meal in honor of the of the eponymous mascot’s birthday. It was received with numerous memes, and people particularly seemed to take a shine to the lurid purple Grimace shake. All those weeks ago, we had no idea what new and absurd levels TikTok humor would take this novelty drink.
In a dark throwback to the days when simply lying down in a funny way was the epitome of humor (RIP planking), TikTokers have been producing skits where they drink the Grimace shake, then pretend to be in a wild state of distress. The videos start off in the style of a review, where people show off their drink to the camera and wish a happy birthday to Grimace. One jumpcut later, and things have usually taken an unfortunate turn.
At the beginning of the trend, many participants didn’t go much further than playing dead after taking their fated sips. However, as the shake has gained in notoriety, the production values have become noticeably higher, with many TikToks playing out like high production horror movie shorts.
It seems like the guy who became Ronald McDonald’s best friend has not strayed far from the villainous roots he started out with in the 70s. This time around, Grimace is even more vengeful and unhinged, as well as feigning his innocence. Perhaps it’s a good thing that this reign of terror is limited edition.