McDonald’s Reintroducing Hamburglar – What Were They Thinking?


Things must really being getting desperate under the Golden Arches. McDonald’s marketing people seem to have run out of ideas and are resurrecting questionable ones from before. The latest odd decision is the plan for reintroducing the Hamburglar, their old McDonaldland character who used to steal burgers in McDonald’s commercials (hence the name) – What were they thinking?

McDonald’s is bringing its Hamburglar character back in its TV spots. McDonald’s new limited time menu feature – the Sirloin Third Pound Burger – was enticing enough to encourage the Hamburglar to return to his life of crime. Last seen on TV in 2002, the Hamburglar has apparently been biding his time as a married father from suburban USA who is ready to resume moonlighting as a burger thief.

When introduced in the early 1970s, the Hamburglar character looked like a chubby cross between Dennis the Menace and Alfred E Newman from Mad Magazine with red hair; red gloves, shoes and tie; and a black and white jailbird suit. The new version, which features a real actor not a cartoon image, looks like a cross between Macklemore and Adam Levine, complete with nice build, scruffy beard, jaunty fedora, black jacket over a black and white striped top. But, as one person noted on social media today, “The new McDonald’s Hamburglar looks like a dad who picked the lamest costume at Party City.”

Some have also suggested the new character looks a lot like National Hockey League goaltender Andrew Hammond. The goalie, who plays for the Ottawa Senators, has a nickname as “The Hamburglar” for his prowess is stealing wins commented today: “Finding it a little weird that [McDonald’s] is bringing the Hamburglar back and he looks like my twin.”

The bigger issue with McDonald’s reintroducing the Hamburglar, besides the lack of creativity, is the premise that leaves some questions their thinking process. This is not the Trix bunny stealing cereal, or a Robin Hood character people might justify away. It is now a human character who steals food – a great message for young viewers! Taking a fry from a friend or colleague is understandable, but stealing burgers is a big strange, at best.

Making the revamped character an attractive and fit-looking human also make one question how often he downs a Big Mac or the Sirloin Third Pound Burgers that he wants to steal in a commercial. Will McDonald’s bring back the Grimace next, an overly large but friendly monster (a la Sesame Street) who loves shakes, and looks like he has drunk more than his fill of them?

For those too young to remember, the original thieving character sold burgers to feed his siblings. It is not clear what the motivation is for the new character, but considering he is a suburban dad it probably is creepy.

With profits slumping, McDonald’s leadership has been touting a turnaround plan for the fast-foot behemouth. If they were thinking reintroducing the Hamburglar will adequately prop up profits, McDonald’s has another think coming. The new burger is marketed to grown-ups, who care more about taste and price. Those areas really should get the fresh thinking, not the ads. Of wait, the Hamburglar returning is not exactly fresh thinking.

Opinion by Dyanne Weiss

Chicago Tribune
Entertainment Weekly
E Online
ABC News

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