Happy Hamburg(la)r Day

So today is National Hamburger Day.

I only just now learned this, otherwise I would have celebrated with a burger for lunch instead of a stupid salad. But now I need to find some other way to mark the occasion.

Actually, it does get me thinking about the well-covered Hamburglar buzz from a few weeks ago. The mascot’s relaunch began interestingly enough, with the new suburban style Hamburglar looking to come out of retirement via teaser videos. It was a curious departure from the classic Hamburglar that we knew, but it did get people talking.

But when the new suburban Hamburglar actually opened his own mouth on Twitter, with his overly sales-y “Robble robble, America,” it seemed like the most ham-fisted way possible to reboot a mascot (Seriously, why is a HamBURGLAR shilling burgers? Shouldn’t he be busy stealing them? And what’s up with the constant complaints about his wife?)

The ineptness didn’t end with video—McDonald’s Twitter feed was full of overt, in-your-face efforts to promote the new Third Pound Burger, devoid of any craftsmanship or cleverness. It all seemed like an utterly shortsighted, missed opportunity that would soon be forgotten. But then we had a surprise twist. Along came OGHamburglar (short for “Original Gangsta”) introduced in the short video “The Parole” by Whiskey Tongue. OGHamburglar was himself a reboot of the very same mascot, but this time it was clever. This time it was in keeping with the classic style while also catering to current tastes with a mix of modern and nostalgia.

OGHamburglar from OGHamburglar on Vimeo.

Presented as spec work by a “rogue” agency, the official website nonetheless called out the suburban Hamburglar as an imposter, pitched the same #robblerobble hashtag (along with an #OGHamburglar tag, of course,) and the campaign as a whole offered more potential warmfuzzies on behalf of McDonald’s that the official ads ever could.

Awesome spec ads that outshine the official work aren’t unheard of, but in this case I had to wonder. This piece was cranked out awfully fast (some articles suggest they’d actually been working on it for some time, but that seems an amazing coincidence.) The execution was fantastic in a way that seemed overkill for something likely to generate a quick “cease and desist,” and that says nothing of the prominent use of “Radar Love,” which would itself likely prompt a quick DMCA take-down unless properly licensed for more money than I’d care to consider.

As I thought about it, it began to feel like deja vú, only backwards. I remembered when the brilliantly crafted Isaiah Mustafa’s Old Spice Guy made waves, but was then “usurped” by the intentionally crappy efforts of Fabio to himself become the “New Old Spice Guy.” Battles between new and old ensued until (if memory serves) the New Old Spice Guy was imprisoned in a Fabio-themed parallel universe. Or something like that.

Could it be that we were being pleasantly punked by Mickey D’s after all? Might the “official” Hamburglar have been intentionally crappy, thus paving the way for OGHamburglar to come along and vanquish the hipster imposter in some family-friendly gangsta way? I knew better, but wished it to be true anyways. But now that weeks have passed and all has gone quiet, I’m forced to admit that McDonald’s was indeed just shilling burgers with a crappy mascot reboot. Perhaps OGHamburglar is the real deal in some magical, Fabio-themed parallel universe, but in this universe he’s merely a piece of wonderful spec-work.

It’s sad, but at least there’s still time to celebrate National Hamburger Day for dinner. I’m off to Burger King.