For decades, Grimace sat in exile while McDonald’s had essentially retired the McDonaldland characters.
You can blame that on the general creepiness of clowns and people not really finding Ronald McDonald all that endearing, but it was a tough blow for the rest of the gang. Mayor McCheese was a politician with a constituency, Birdie the Early Bird was just a yellow bird wearing overalls, and the Fry Guys were probably looking for work in Branson alongside other has-beens from the 1980s.
Aside from a brief live-action comeback for Hamburglar in 2015 (where he had a family he apparently stole burgers to support), McDonald’s (MCD) – Get Free Report had not been using its classic characters. That changed in October 2015 when the company paired with Cactus Plant Flea Market for trippy new Happy Meal toys based on some of your McDonaldland favorites.
That brought Grimace back into the public consciousness (and touched off a whole series of speculating on what the purple monster actually is). You could call it a Grimace renaissance, which might be a little much, but it’s fair to say the character was introduced to a new generation.
McDonald’s capitalized on Grimace’s newfound popularity by releasing a new purple shake celebrating the character’s birthday for two weeks in June. That shake led to a social media phenomenon where people used the colorful beverage to create crime scenes for TikTok videos.
That’s probably not what McDonald’s wanted, but it seems like going viral on social media is exactly the reason Restaurant Brands International’s (QSR) – Get Free Report Burger King has introduced a pink “Barbie” burger and similarly-colored shake in its restaurants in Brazil.
Burger King is not promoting the Barbie movie in the U.S.
Image source: Naomi Baker/Getty Images
Burger King Brazil Goes Full-On Barbie
While it seems odd that Burger King is only launching this promotion in Brazil, it’s likely a calculated plan from the company. The new BK Barbie Combo has so much visual appeal it’s likely to go viral even if you can’t get it in the U.S.
And, while the shake seems like it might be a big seller anywhere, it seems less likely that Americans want a burger that’s notably bright pink.
“Each BK Barbie Combo includes a Pink Burger, an order of Ken’s fries (regular BK fries served in a Barbie-themed sleeve), a Barbie Shake, and a fountain drink of your choice” The Fast Food Post reported.
Both products use Barbie’s signature pink color to varying degrees:
“The Pink Burger consists of a signature flame-grilled beef patty topped with a slice of cheddar cheese, smokey pink sauce, and crispy diced bacon on a toasted plain bun” the website shared. “Meanwhile, the Barbie Shake is a pink-colored shake that features vanilla soft serve blended with strawberry-flavored Nesquik and topped with a pink and white chocolate-coated donut.”
Burger King Has Big Global Plans
While it has fallen to third place in the US behind McDonald’s and Wendy’s, Burger King remains a major player globally. It had a very strong first quarter outside of its home market which RBI CEO Josh Kobza talked about during the company’s Q1 earnings call.
“Turning now to Burger King. Starting with the international business, which grew first-quarter system-wide sales by 19%, adding over $400 million of incremental sales year-over-year. These results were driven by 5.2% net unit growth and a healthy balance of traffic and check, resulting in comparable sales of 12.3%,” he shared.
Globally, the chain’s success has been driven by a mix of product releases and value offerings.
“Our top-line performance this quarter was driven by communication of Burger King’s most important equity, the Whopper,” he added.
The CEO also cited the $5 Your Way Meal and 30% growth in digital sales as pushing the brand forward.