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What McDonald’s Did Wrong

Aside from the nutrient content of their food and the fact that they’ve advertised with an annoying and incredibly discomforting clown for decades, McDonald’s has managed to become the premier cheap, quick burger chain in the world. They even managed to snag a mention in Pulp Fiction:

royale with cheese

However, along with not only maintaining the unnerving Ronald, they’ve also decided to include a new mascot.

But, before we talk about their new mascot, let’s talk about Despicable Me, specifically the Minions:

Okay, just keep that little video in mind, or any Minion moments that you remember from either Despicable Me film.

Also, let’s keep in mind the signature song from Despicable Me 2 that has achieved phenomenal success on a global scale (despite its incredibly annoying repetition):

Got the recipe? Goofy little guys who occasionally sing and the word “happy.”

Now, let’s get back to McDonald’s. What have they been up to this week?

Oh, sorry, I was going to embed a YouTube video of their new mascot here, but as it turns out, their YouTube channel channel doesn’t have the video, so you’ll have to go here to watch the obvious Minion rip-off.

And here’s a pic for good measure:


Most people find the ugly thing to be terrifying, creepy or otherwise scarring to view. I don’t see the alleged creepiness – but that might have a little to do with the guy that Happy will probably replace:

Why so Happy Meal?


Anyway, if you watched the video, you probably see where McDonald’s went wrong. They are an international, billion dollar corporation. So, why are they copying a popular film for their advertising?

Maybe someone the marketing conversation went something like:

  • “Whoa. Did you guys hear that there’s this really popular song called ‘Happy’?”
  • “Yeah. It’s great. Kind of reminds me of our Happy Meals.”
  • “I thought the same thing!”
  • “You know it’s from that killer film Despicable Me 2, right?”
  • “Yeah. Did you see it?”
  • “Of course I saw it. I love those Minions so much.”
  • “Hmm… we should rip off the minions for a new mascot.”
  • “Sounds good to me!”

That’s just my guess. Maybe it was all a big coincidence.

On another marketing-related topic, I find it strange that McDonalds lacks social media continuity:

Screenshot 2014-05-22 15.24.55

Screenshot 2014-05-22 15.25.28

Screenshot 2014-05-22 15.25.56


But, at least they are self aware:

Screenshot 2014-05-22 15.29.27


So, if you want to know where McDonald’s went wrong with their social media marketing, here it is:

  • They ripped off a popular set of characters from a popular film, and or applied the popular characters’ traits to their already-existing European mascot
  • They assumed that a mascot who went over well in Europe would also go over well in the States
  • They lack any social media continuity and haven’t even posted the Happy mascot video to YouTube (which may have been a good mistake to make in this case)

Also… they could have maybe learned a thing or two about avoiding creepy smiles from a certain competitor:



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