Category Archives: Badvertising

Badvertising: McDonald’s Messed-Up Mascot McStake.

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we examine the time that McDonald’s decided to cause nightmares, scare kids, and basically creep everyone out. Sort of. Actually, we’re taking a look at the odd and totally unnecessary redesign of the McDonald’s Happy Meal box. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

Meet Happy! He’s Here to Scare the Living Hell Out of Your Kids.

Remember the good old Happy Meal box? A simple red carton with a big happy yellow smile on it. Let’s refresh your memory…

McDonalds 1

Simple. Classic. Elegant, even. A solid case of form meeting function while conveying the primary message: “McDonald’s makes you happy!” There was no reason to change it, I mean, why mess with success? Because they can, that’s why. Take a look at what happened to the Happy Meal box back in 2014, after a group of marketing execs decided to play Dr. Frankenstein and “update the image,” thus creating a new “brand ambassador” they named “Happy.”

McDonalds

Good lord! Just look at this monstrosity! Look at the weird spindly arms, the realistic human mouth – look at those teeth! It’s got HUMAN TEETH! And tonsils! And those eyes… They’re… crazy eyes… Does this thing look “happy” to you? No, it’s a deraged lunatic and it wants to eat your kids! Quick – KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!! (If you think that this is an exaggerated reaction, check out real kids reacting to Happy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTMuLeoy4Es)

How could something like this happen? This had to be a bigger snafu than New Coke. Surely Micky D’s has hordes of marketing professionals, focus groups – and just people with two good eyes and a working brain – who could have looked at this, this thing and stopped it in time. But no. The guys over at “Big Burger” actually thought Happy was a positive influence for kids that would “encourage kids to enjoy fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and wholesome beverages such as water or juice.” In-between screams of horror, one supposes.

So, epic, epic fail – right? Maybe. Then again, there’s this thought to consider…

Maybe Happy was really an act of marketing genius. Think about it, what does McDonald’s serve? Burgers, French fries, sodas, McRibs for God’s sake in essence, crap food that’s very bad for you – but the pressure was on for them to offer wholesome alternatives, and so what did they come up with? Happy. Now, we all know that Mickey D’s would dry up and blow away if everyone suddenly began to eat “fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and wholesome beverages such as water or juice.” So maybe they created a mascot – sorry, “brand ambassador”—that was so creepy, and so weird, that it caused every kid who saw it to associate wholesome fare with the Crazy-eyed Tooth Monster and go running for the solace of a Big Mac. Maybe McDonald’s Happy was not the disaster we all thought, but rather a clever “anti-mascot”: reverse psychology as marketing tool!

Or, sadly, maybe it was just a case of trying to get talked about. Consider this:

BurgerBusiness blog states that since the introduction of Happy in 2014, McDonald’s overall online/social media impressions rose by 67% over a four-day period in May, with 25% related directly to Happy, and another 11% to do with Happy Meals. So it didn’t matter one bit that most people hated Happy, it was still a social media hit.

Is McDonald’s happy? They’re lovin’ it.

Badvertising: Pop Goes the Account!

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we discuss why marketing agencies should always know their target audience, and why businesses need to know their marketing agencies. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! Two Girls, One Cup (of Dr. Pepper). There are marketing fiascoes and foul-ups, and then there’s this. Back in 2010, Dr.…Continue Reading

Badvertising: The Ego Has Landed.

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we look at the importance of managing public image, and question whether “any publicity is good publicity” is true or not. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! LeBron James’ PR Stunt: Fail? Success? YOU DECIDE! Back in the summer of 2010, basketball superstar LeBron “The King” James…Continue Reading

Badvertising: Peaches and Golden Suds

In this installment of MarketSmiths Badvertising, we’ll take a look at why one of the world’s largest beer brands felt the need to pick on the little guys. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! Although it’s now owned by Belgian-based InBev, Budweiser remains among the most iconic brands in America. But lately it’s…Continue Reading

Badvertising: “Party on, eh!”

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we examine what happens when big corporations fumble at social media. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! Molson’s Facebook Fail Back in 2007, at the dawning of social media, Molson Coors Brewing (the third-largest U.S. brewer behind Anheuser-Busch and Miller) tried to get the party started by…Continue Reading

Badvertising: Too Funky Fresh?

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we examine what happens when corporations try to be too clever with their marketing—and get busted big time. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! Sony PlayStation’s Fake Fan Site (and its bad spin) Back in 2006, a guy who went only by the name of “Charlie” created…Continue Reading

Badvertising: Crimes and Misdemeanors!

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we examine the time that American Apparel made a very odd flirt with celebrity endorsement. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! American Apparel’s Weird Woody Allen Billboard When one thinks of American Apparel’s approach to marketing one usually envisions soft-core porn photos of scantily-clad women in provocative…Continue Reading

Badvertising: High-flying Hijinks

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we look at pranks posing as promotions and the cons of using controversy to market your wares. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! Spirit Airline’s Slippery Oil Promotion It’s a fine line between trying to be cute and trying to drum up free publicity by creating a…Continue Reading

Badvertising: What’s Up, Doc?

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we examine Pfizer’s bogus doctor ads starring Dr. Robert Jarvik, inventor of the artificial heart. Funny thing is, Jarvik never practiced medicine. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! Pfizer’s Physician Pflim-Pflam Pfiasco “I’m glad I take Lipitor, as a doctor and a dad. Lipitor is one of the most researched…Continue Reading

Badvertising: Plane Wrong

In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we look at what happens when you exploit one tragedy in order to draw attention to another one. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! The World Wildlife Fund’s 9/11 Major Fail Warm and fuzzy thoughts about endangered animals. A mission to save the planet. Cute little panda logo.…Continue Reading

Digital Strategy by MadPipe
Photography by Chellise Michael

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