- McDonald’s saw global comparable sales increase 11.7% in Q2 2023, with 10.3% growth in the U.S. and double-digit growth across each of its segments, per its latest earnings report.
- The fast food giant attributed U.S. sales growth to strength in digital and delivery, along with culturally relevant marketing. Chief among those efforts was a birthday celebration promotion for brand mascot Grimace that notched more than 3 billion views on TikTok.
- CEO Chris Kempczinski on an earnings call called Grimace the theme of the quarter, describing the campaign as a viral phenomenon that serves as “another proof point of the power of marketing at McDonald’s today.”
McDonald’s topped Wall Street estimates for its Q2 earnings and revenue, seeing double-digit growth across its segments despite continued macroeconomic pressures. On an earnings call, CEO Kempczinski noted that while he focused last quarter on consistency across a variety of measures, the theme of this quarter was Grimace, whose 52nd birthday celebration was central to a campaign that drove more than 3 billion views on TikTok and helped boost sales growth in the U.S.
“We took the nostalgic experience of celebrating birthdays at McDonald’s and repackaged it for a new generation,” said CFO Ian Borden on the earnings call. “It quickly became one of our most socially engaging campaigns of all time, with millions of reactions on our social media posts — a true demonstration of how the power of our brand emerges in organic and creative ways in our fans.”
Despite its viral success, the Grimace shake trend is perhaps an unlikely recipient of such high praise from the C-suite. For weeks, TikTok was heavy with user-generated clips that saw consumers drinking the purple, berry-flavored shake before jump-cutting to horror-inspired results that often featured vomit and violence. The brand previously responded to the phenomenon in cheeky fashion, tweeting “meee pretending i don’t see the grimace shake trendd” with a photo of the brand character.
The Grimace shake trend was an unintended consequence of a campaign that also included an 8-bit video game, merchandise, a Snapchat augmented reality experience, a phone number to text Grimace “directly” and a charity drive. Still, McDonald’s attributed the phenomenon to the power of marketing efforts that look to create cultural conversations. Kempczinski noted the 18 awards that the brand won across 10 markets at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, along with its rising position in Kantar’s most valuable brands report.
“McDonald’s Corporation is in the business of selling a brand,” the CEO said. “We’ve upped our marketing game.”
Along with the focus on Grimace, Kempczinski said that the brand will extend its largest global unified marketing campaign ever, last fall’s FIFA Men's World Cup-focused “Wanna Go To McDonald’s?,” to the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup, bringing the effort to 28 markets through fully integrated social, digital, streaming and content strategies.