Grimace comes out of retirement to take on The Raptor

McDonald’s has brought back its famous giant “purple pal” Grimace for the first time in nearly 20 years, in a campaign celebrating its partnership with the Toronto Raptors.

In a new ad by Cossette, Grimace plays one-on-one hoops with the NBA squad’s famous mascot, The Raptor.

Though his short arms and lack of hops makes him an unexpected choice for a basketball ad, Grimace (the original “round mound of rebound”?) shows The Raptor he’s got some moves in the ad which goes heavy on the nostalgia—from the music (“Rock the Bells” by Boys Noize) to their jerseys (Grimace wears 71 for the year he made his debut, and The Raptor 95 for the year he appeared).

McDonald’s has been a Raptors sponsor for fours year now, and Cossette has found a number of fun and playful ways to promote the partnership.

“From the limited- edition Raptors NuggNet box, to coach Nick Nurse’s appearances in our revamped Big Mac campaign, our strategic partnership has been driving fan engagement year-over-year,” said Chuck Coolen, senior marketing manager, Eastern Canada for the QSR. “This special one-time appearance by Grimace is the perfect way to help us keep that momentum going.”

The ad is running in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, with a 60-second version online, along with a :30 for TV and :15- and six-second versions for social.

The comeback of Grimace reminded us of the age-old question: What even is Grimace?

McDonald’s has been coy about that over the years, suggesting he’s either a giant taste bud, or the embodiment of a milk shake. Either way, he remains an unmistakably friendly character, and less troublesome than the original four-armed “Evil Grimace.”

Roy T. Bergold Jr., a one-time vice-president of advertising at McDonald’s, wrote in QSR magazine that the early version of Grimace scared kids. “The original Grimace was scaly, mean-looking, had four arms, and had no charm whatsoever,” he said. “We changed him to a soft, plush, two-armed blob of a sweetheart who only wanted McDonald’s milkshakes and to hang out with Ronald.”

We would have liked to see if that four-armed version had game.

David Brown