McDonald's Grimace Campaign Drives Brand Awakening as Company Zeroes in on Gen Z, Millennials

McDonald's Grimace Campaign Drives Brand Awakening as Company Zeroes in on Gen Z, Millennials

News by Roberto OrosaRoberto Orosa
Published: June 22, 2023

In early June, global fast-food chain McDonald’s launched a campaign to celebrate the birthday of one of its most iconic mascots, Grimace. Now, the purple character, which originated in the 1970s, is taking over social media and the company says it’s driving a brand awakening.  

Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s chief marketing and customer experience officer, explained in an interview with Yahoo that the Grimace campaign is part of the company’s plan to turn the brand into a “cultural icon” to drive business. 

The chief marketing officer also made a callback to McDonald’s collaboration with American rapper Travis Scott in 2020, noting that the campaign gave the company important marketing insights and that its celebrity-endorsed meals helped people reconnect to the brand, which he confessed had lost its “swagger.”    

Now, with the Grimace campaign, McDonald’s is leveraging the culture surrounding the beloved purple mascot to fuel its marketing, targeting millennials and Gen Z, particularly multi-cultural youth, which Hassan describes as “the most diverse market that we’ve seen in our generation.” 

“First of all, Grimace represents joy and happiness,” shared Hassan, adding that according to lore, Grimace represents a taste bud. 

“What we’re doing is we’re tapping in and understanding that fan relationship, and then we’re wrapping the executions around things that have a little more universal appeal. So that Happy Meal experience, no matter what generation you were, you understood it and you related to it,” he explained.     

Meanwhile, Wall Street analysts believe that the marketing campaign is gaining valuable traction. Analyst Gregory Francfort called McDonald’s the most “McCompelling” stock among restaurants.  

"We think McDonald’s success is the cumulative effect of years of investment in the asset base, improvements in the marketing message, and a digital engagement story that has legs," Francfort explained.  

The Grimace Birthday campaign was launched last June 7, and the company started its marketing push by changing its profile picture across all platforms into the purple mascot.

A week after, McDonald’s also launched the Grimace Birthday Meal, which consisted of a purple shake inspired by Grimace’s color, paired with either a Big Mac or 10-piece Chicken McNuggets, and McDonald’s World-Famous Fries.   

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