Will the New Hamburglar Help McDonald’s With Its Brand Image?

After a 13-year hiatus, McDonald’s has brought back the Hamburglar. The burger-thieving mascot has transformed from a cartoon to a human man, a suburban dad on which the Internet is torn. Some people find him attractive, while others find him creepy. But what does he do for the brand’s image?

McDonald’s continues to struggle with declining sales and engaging Millennials, who largely prefer fast-casual chains like Chipotle and Panera Bread. Bob Kahn, president of branding firm Kahn Consulting, doesn’t think rebooting a mascot is the right solution to the brand’s main problem.

“The core problem with McDonald’s is the food. It’s not the gimmickry or the marketing campaigns around being clever,” he says. “It’s about the quality of the food and until that changes fairly dramatically, they’re not going to see a major turnaround in the business.

“The world has changed and McDonald’s, while it’s tried to keep up, is a bit out of step with where the mainstream trends are headed,” he adds, referring to Chipotle being frequently lauded for the quality of its ingredients.

Still, Kahn acknowledges McDonald’s strong brand name, which means that the new Hamburglar will command consumers’ attention. And it has. Twitter comments have ranged from “The new Hamburglar is kind of a DILF (dad I’d like to…)” to “It’ll be tough for McDonald’s to market their food to kids since the #Hamburglar can’t be within 2,000 ft of a school ” to “McDonald’s ‘new Hamburglar’ looks like ‘College Dude Who Threw a Halloween Costume Together At The Last Second.”

Of course, many social media mentions were strictly making fun, comparing the Hamburglar to people like Macklemore, Cary Elwes in The Princess Bride, and 1990s wrestler The Repo Man.

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