On Wednesday, McDonald’s—as part of its attempt to revive a flagging brand—unveiled a new look for the Hamburglar. The Hamburglar, you might recall, used to be a chubby-cheeked, cartoon tyke whose life’s work was to steal hamburgers from Ronald McDonald. Now the Hamburglar is a grown man wearing a fedora, a trenchcoat, and skinny jeans.
As if this wholly unnecessary update weren’t confusing enough already, McDonald’s vice president of marketing gave this explanation to Mashable, “We felt it was time to debut a new look for the Hamburglar after he’s been out of the public eye all these years. He’s had some time to grow up a bit and has been busy raising a family in the suburbs and his look has evolved over time.”
“Busy raising a family in the suburbs”? This is not what a suburban dad looks like, unless that suburban dad trying to relive his glory days by wearing clothes he could barely pull off 15 years ago and trying to pick up college girls with his newfound knowledge of pickup artistry. (That eye mask reeks of peacocking.) If the new Hamburglar is supposed to be a suburban dad, he is a suburban dad in the throes of a severe midlife crisis. Surely the hamburger fixation is yet another symptom of his pathetic pursuit of masculinity.
So far, the response to the new Hamburglar has been withering. “The Hamburglar Grew Up to Be an EDM-Loving Asshole Dad,” wrote Gawker’s Dayna Evans. Eater has dubbed him the “HamBROglar,” and wags on Twitter have started photoshopping the new Hamburglar into the American Hustle poster and next to Jennifer Aniston. It’s possible McDonald’s knew exactly which cultural buttons it was pushing with this unsolicited update of a classic character, and is laughing right along with Jezebel. But more likely, McDonald’s aimed for relevance and missed. Which is fitting for a brand that—like its new mascot—is having a public identity crisis.