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The Shamrock Shake: Seasonal Marketing

11 Mar, 2016 McKell Naegle


‘Tis the season to be lucky! Or at least, it is for most of the country; for marketers, there’s no such thing as luck.

Every campaign is tailor made for the product being sold, and designed specifically for the target market. And if that isn’t enough, campaigns need to change with seasons and holidays.

Seasonal marketing is not easy, but every once in awhile, along comes a brand who seems to know every secret to success. Just one example is the ever elusive Shamrock Shake, the greenest item on a McDonalds menu.

Introduced in 1970, the Shamrock Shake has gone through several iterations, from just green dyed vanilla ice cream to the mint flavored (still dyed green) milkshake we’re used to today. But how do you sell a product for only one or two months a year?

  • For a limited time only!

Very few words can cause such a consumer frenzy as “limited time only.” Give your customers a small window of opportunity and human nature will do all it can to make sure they don’t miss that window. McDonalds offers the Shamrock Shake during the months of February and March only. After that they lock the secret recipe away for the rest of the year, where only avid Pinterest users can find it.

  • Available at participating locations!

This tactic can only work for so long, because the lack of availability will drive your clientele crazy. McDonalds learned this by offering its Shamrock Shake at only select locations across the country. The Shamrock Shake used to be more elusive than leprechauns, and not enough green craving customers could get their hands on one. Websites were even created for the sole purpose of hosting public forums where successful customers could share where they had found the shake. In 2012, McDonalds announced that the Shamrock Shake would be available nationwide.

  • Make it relevant.

It’s called seasonal marketing for a reason, it’s influenced by whatever’s going on that time of year. This one should be obvious, but goes deeper than just holidays and sporting events. You need to know the trends, the culture, and the rising generation. Below are some fun Shamrock Shake ads, take a look at how much the ads have changed over the years.



McDonalds has shown their expertise by creating not only a seasonal product, but an annual tradition. Seasonal marketing can take you out of the catalog and into your customer’s home as a part of the family.

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