Did McDonald’s bungle the Hamburglar reboot?

Yesterday, McDonald’s launched its latest attempt to salvage its relevance among millennials by revamping its classic character, the Hamburglar, transforming him from the rosy-cheeked cartoon ’90s kids knew into a real, live man.

McDonald’s has had a rough start to 2015. CEO Don Thompson announced his resignation in late January. Domestic same-store sales are down 4 percent. Multiple reshuffles and layoffs across marketing and other departments have left a company with a significant image problem struggling to communicate their value to a generation that regards their burgers as unhealthy.

So, a few hours in, has McDonald’s relaunch been all sizzle, no steak?

Opinion is divided — not everyone is lovin’ it — but at least the jokes are coming on strong:

All in all, it’s not an egregious backfire — if you believe there’s no such thing as a bad tweet.

However, the clash of tones — is Hamburglar 2.0 a hot dad or playground creeper? — leaves the brand message unclear: In the TV spot, the Hamburglar is a suburb-dwelling father with a wife, tween son and secret identity. In the promotional images, the Hamburglar wears stylish kicks, slouchy pants and sports facial scruff — more urban-living single dude than burger-grilling dad.

If the social impact is anything to go by, this could be a win for the company in spite of itself. In the longterm though, it could have been an excellent opportunity to resurrect the Hamburglar as millennials actually knew him: one-toothed, cheeky, fun, and above all, an ageless cartoon.


More in Marketing

Cannes Briefing: How Cannes Lions 2024 became the Festival of Creators

The power of the creator economy and its hold on the advertising industry is on full display at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year.

‘More content is better than less’: An annotated Q&A with Esports World Cup CEO Ralf Reichert

With an eye-popping $60 million-plus prize pool, the Esports World Cup has been met with both excitement and skepticism by longtime observers of the space.