shamrock shake

    The McDonald’s Shamrock Shake, a seasonal treat fast approaching its fiftieth year of bringing a little green pleasure into the lives of millions. A March mainstay, the minty green shake is as familiar to American audiences as the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte or the Outback Blooming Onion. Consumers look forward to enjoying a cold, Shamrock Shake in the lead up to St Patrick’s Day each year and now – in the age of Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat – sharing that experience with the world.

    But how did the most famous American burger restaurant find itself selling an Irish-themed milkshake? And how did it move from seasonal oddity to gastronomic event? And why are Shamrock Shakes still so popular after nearly half a century?

    Here’s our look at the wonderful example of marketing that is the McDonald’s Shamrock Shake.

    The Birth of the Shamrock Shake

    While one of the defining features of a McDonald’s restaurant is the chance to taste the same burger made the same way almost anywhere in the world (with some notable regional differences, of course) its important to remember that new products are often the result of experiments in just a single store or city. It was out of single city, Chicago, that the Shamrock Shake emerged in 1970 as local franchisees sought a way to celebrate the city’s unofficial Irish holiday.

    Chicago was already famous for dying the Chicago River a bright emerald green, a tradition that began back in 1961. The idea of dying a McDonald’s vanilla shake green came along just a couple of years later and it was Rogers Merchandising that got the shake into local stores. Rogers was already a well known name in the fast-food sector being involved in selecting toys and marketing materials for McDonald’s Happy Meals as well as competitors like Burger King and Wendy’s, too. The Shamrock Shake, though, was something new for the company as it was not a physical addition to an existing meal but a new drink altogether.

    Rogers Merchandising’s James Byrne was inspired by a family milkshake recipe and adapted it to the McDonald’s chain. In the beginning the Shamrock Shake was an impressive combination of lemon, lime, vanilla ice cream, vanilla syrup, and lemon-lime sherbet, too. Within a couple of years, though, the complexity of the recipe was reduced somewhat and the Shamrock Shake devolved to being simply a vanilla shake with some green coloring. It 1983 the recipe changed again, and the mint flavor that continues to define the product today was introduced for the first time. No longer a vanilla ice cream base, the modern Shamrock Shake is based on mint ice cream with the addition of just milk and vanilla syrup. This recipe has remained largely unchanged for more than 30 years.

    Marketing the Shamrock Shake

    Just as the recipe has changed over the years, McDonald’s has also experimented with different marketing approaches to sell its seasonal treat.

    Among the most recognizable characters in all of advertising, Ronald McDonald is the face of the McDonald’s brand. The red, yellow and white clown is a friend to children, a smiling face in advertising, and one of the key players in McDonaldland, the fictional world where McDonald’s characters live.

    Some of the characters in McDonaldland are familiar to generations of McDonald’s customers. There’s Ronald McDonald, of course, Grimace, Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese and Birdie, all of whom were used to promote certain products, services, or the McDonald’s brand generally. While today only Ronald McDonald remains as a character in use by the company to promote its restaurants (and even then sparingly) the characters were once key to promoting permanent and seasonal offers at McDonald’s restaurants.

    During the 1980s and in an effort to promote the Shamrock Shake McDonald’s introduced Uncle O’Grimacey to McDonaldland. According to the McDonald’s Wikia, Uncle O’Grimacey is Grimace’s Irish uncle. O’Grimacey is:

    …a green grimace. He wears a green cob hat, a vest with shamrocks on it, carries a wooden cane and appears furrier than his nephew Grimace. Every March, around St. Patrick’s Day, he delivers Shamrock Shakes in McDonaldland. Uncle O’Grimacey is just one of many grimaces in Grimace’s extended family.

    It’s fair to say that a stereotypical character like Uncle O’Grimacey wouldn’t pass muster in the politically correct advertising industry of 2016, but his appearances in McDonald’s advertisements during the 1980s helped cement the Shamrock Shake in the minds of the customers.

    Other advertisements highlighted the product by focusing more on the product than the McDonaldland character that delivered it. In this advertisement there are multiple shots of the Shamrock Shake as well as the short-lived Shamrock Sundae.

    If the advertising looks dated, well, it is fair to say that it is. This effort from 1983, for example, uses choral backing vocals over a traditional Irish jig and magic green hats to sell the Shamrock Shake.

    Other advertising from the same era focused primarily on children, though the product remained a central feature of the pitch:

    In more recent years the advertising has taken the focus off the McDonaldland characters and even children altogether, with this effort from 2012 more in line with the broader McDonald’s branding strategy:

    A lot more palatable, to be sure to be sure.

    Marketing the Shamrock Shake Today

    This St Patrick’s Day McDonald’s is promoting the Shamrock Shake underneath its McCafe brand umbrella. No longer the plain greens shake of the 1980s and 1990s, the McCafe Shamrock Shake is a chic, light green cream-topped delight served with a cherry on top.

    mccafe shamrock shake 

    The focus here is less on the Irish factor and more on taste: cool, minty and a limited time offer. There’s no Uncle O’Grimacey, there’s no Irish dancing or disturbing ‘Kiss me I’m Irish’ situations, just a fresh, cool and green shake served in a café style clear plastic cup. It’s cleaner, it’s modern, and it’s just as appetizing as ever.

    While the marketing may have evolved, the product remains the same and the appeal of the early-Spring milkshake is just as strong as ever. McDonald’s has proven that a strong product combined with savvy advertising and a limited-time-offer makes for an almost irresistible package and is a big part of the reason why the Shamrock Shake continues to delight nearly fifty years after it was first imagined in Chicago.



    1. Pingback: Three Marketing Lessons We Can Learn from the Shamrock Shake - 4C Blog

    2. Pingback: Three Marketing Lessons We Can Learn from the Shamrock Shake - 4C Blog

    3. Pingback: A Digital Marketer's Look into St. Patrick's Day | Online Sales Guide Tips

    4. Hi, I do think this is a great blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may revisit yet again since i have bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.

    5. Usually I don’t read post on blogs, however I would like to saythat this write-up very pressured me to check out and do so!Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, very great article.

    6. Aw, this was a very nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to produce a superb article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.Loading…

    7. Its great as your other blog posts : D, appreciate it for posting . “What makes something special is not just what you have to gain, but what you feel there is to lose.” by Andre Agassi.

    8. Good info and right to the point. I am not sure if this is actually the best place to ask but do you people have any thoughts on where to hire some professional writers? Thx 🙂

    9. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely wellwritten article. I will be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.I will certainly comeback.

    10. Sibyl Hayes on

      Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Finding thetime and actual effort to produce a great article… but what can I say…I hesitate a whole lot and don’t seem to get nearly anything done.

    11. magnificent post, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector do not notice this. You should continue your writing. I am confident, you’ve a huge readers’ base already!

    12. I really appreciate this post. Ive been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day! Thanks again

    13. Heya i’m for the primary time here. I came across this board and I find It really helpful & it helped me out much.I’m hoping to provide one thing back and aid others like you aided me.

    14. Simply want to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness in your post is just great and i can assume you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please carry on the gratifying work.

    15. Heya i’m for the primary time here. I found this board and I in finding It truly helpful & it helped me out a lot. I am hoping to give one thing again and help others like you aided me.

    16. Great weblog here! Additionally your site rather a lot up very fast! What web host are you using? Can I get your affiliate hyperlink in your host? I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol

    17. Moira Byrne on

      Thanks for finally talking about > القوات التركيةتجدد قصفها مناطق ريف حلب بسوريا – ستراتيجيا نيوز

    18. When some one searches for his vital thing, therefore he/she desires to beavailable that in detail, therefore that thing is maintained over here.

    19. Hello, the whole thing is going sound here and ofcourse every one is sharing facts, that’s truly excellent, keep up writing.

    20. Normally I don’t read article on blogs, however I would like to saythat this write-up very pressured me to checkout and do so! Your writing taste has been surprised me.Thank you, very nice article.

    21. Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after looking at a few of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely delighted I discovered it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!

    22. Thanks for your tips about this blog. A single thing I would wish to say is purchasing electronic devices items from the Internet is not new. Actually, in the past decade alone, the market for online gadgets has grown a great deal. Today, you will find practically virtually any electronic gizmo and other gadgets on the Internet, ranging from cameras along with camcorders to computer parts and game playing consoles.

    23. Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to assert that I get in fact enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I?ll be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.

    24. That is a good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere.Short but very accurate information… Thanks for sharing this one.A must read article!

    25. Thanks for your posting. I have generally seen that many people are eager to lose weight as they wish to show up slim plus attractive. On the other hand, they do not constantly realize that there are many benefits just for losing weight also. Doctors state that obese people suffer from a variety of illnesses that can be instantly attributed to their excess weight. The great thing is that people who’re overweight along with suffering from numerous diseases can help to eliminate the severity of the illnesses through losing weight. It is easy to see a constant but notable improvement in health while even a bit of a amount of fat reduction is obtained.

    26. visit website on

      Hi there, just became aware of your blog throughGoogle, and found that it is really informative. I am going towatch out for brussels. I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future.Lots of people will be benefited from your writing.Cheers!

    27. A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I believe that you ought to publish more about this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but usually people don’t discuss these issues. To the next! Best wishes!!

    28. Another important part is that if you are a senior citizen, travel insurance for pensioners is something you ought to really think about. The elderly you are, the more at risk you will be for having something poor happen to you while in foreign countries. If you are not really covered by some comprehensive insurance plan, you could have several serious challenges. Thanks for revealing your suggestions on this website.

    29. I was just seeking this information for some time. After 6 hours of continuous Googleing, finally I got it in your site. I wonder what is the lack of Google strategy that do not rank this kind of informative websites in top of the list. Usually the top web sites are full of garbage.

    30. Throughout this awesome scheme of things you get a B- just for effort and hard work. Exactly where you lost me was in your specifics. You know, they say, the devil is in the details… And it couldn’t be more accurate right here. Having said that, permit me inform you just what exactly did do the job. The writing is certainly pretty convincing and this is most likely the reason why I am taking an effort in order to opine. I do not make it a regular habit of doing that. Secondly, although I can easily see the leaps in logic you come up with, I am not convinced of exactly how you appear to unite your ideas which in turn help to make the actual conclusion. For the moment I shall yield to your position however wish in the foreseeable future you connect the facts better.

    31. One thing is that when you find yourself searching for a education loan you may find that you will want a cosigner. There are many situations where this is true because you might discover that you do not use a past credit score so the mortgage lender will require that you’ve someone cosign the borrowed funds for you. Interesting post.

    32. Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any troublewith hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing several weeks of hard work due to no backup.Do you have any methods to protect against hackers?

    33. I do accept as true with all the ideas you’ve presented for your post. They are really convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are very short for beginners. May you please prolong them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

    34. Wonderful work! This is the type of info that should be shared around the net. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher! Come on over and visit my web site . Thanks =)

    35. Quentin Rowland on

      There’s definately a great deal to know about this issue. I like all of the points you’ve made.

    36. Thanks for the marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed readingit, you happen to be a great author.I will ensure that I bookmarkyour blog and will come back later on. I want to encouragecontinue your great writing, have a nice evening!

    37. I blog quite often and I truly thank you for your content. This article has really peaked my interest. I’m going to bookmark your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well.

    38. I have realized that car insurance companies know the motors which are at risk from accidents and other risks. They also know what form of cars are inclined to higher risk and also the higher risk they’ve the higher a premium rate. Understanding the uncomplicated basics involving car insurance will assist you to choose the right type of insurance policy which will take care of your needs in case you become involved in any accident. Thanks for sharing the ideas on your blog.

    Leave A Reply