McDonald’s box-shaped mascot inspires fear, not Happiness

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 May, 2014, 9:16pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 May, 2014, 9:16pm

A new McDonald's character named Happy is inspiring a different emotion among Twitter users: fear.

The box-shaped creature - with eyes that pop out of the top of its head and a gaping mouth filled with large teeth - was intended to promote healthier Happy Meals for kids. So far, it's mainly drawn alarm and ridicule.

Since debuting on Twitter in an official McDonald's post yesterday, Happy has elicited responses such as "I think I'm going to have nightmares" and "THAT! is scary!" A video featuring Happy was posted to the McDonald's Facebook page, drawing additional scorn, such as "epic fail" and even "this makes me crave Burger King".

McDonald's hopes the character gets a friendlier reaction from children. The mascot "is about bringing more fun and excitement to kids' meals, including eating wholesome food choices like low-fat yogurt", McDonald's said. Happy will encourage children to eat fruits and vegetables and drink milk, juice or water, it said.

Dawn Jackson Blatner, a dietitian nutritionist, welcomed the drive for healthier meals but questioned whether Happy - looking like a box of food - was the best embodiment of that message.

"It doesn't look like a broccoli head," Blatner said.

Last month, the Ronald McDonald clown mascot also got a makeover. He now wears yellow cargo pants, a red blazer and a striped rugby shirt.

McDonald's isn't alone in making changes. Burger King is ditching its 40-year-old "Have It Your Way" slogan for a "Be Your Way" tag line. The move is meant to highlight the chain's customisable sandwiches.

Happy isn't totally new. The toothy box character was introduced in 2009 in France and has made its way into other countries in Europe and Latin America, where he "has been loved and well-received by children", McDonald's said.