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The McDonald’s Hamburglar Makes a Comeback | May 2023

After an 8-year hiatus, McDonald’s has brought back one of its classic mascots, the Hamburglar, to promote changes to the restaurant’s menu in its latest commercial. Companies often use celebrity endorsers, spokescharacters, and mascots to promote their products. McDonald’s mascots include Ronald McDonald, Grimace, Hamburglar, Birdie the Early Bird, Fry Kids, and more. 

Menu Changes 

The menu changes focus on improving the Big Mac, McDouble, Cheeseburger, Double Cheeseburger, and Hamburger, including softer buns, meltier cheese, and more Big Mac sauce. The company tested the improvements in select countries (Australia, Canada, and Belgium) before rolling them out in the United States. Though a menu improvement may seem minor, it can take a long time to implement. Currently, the changes are only available in Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Denver, Boise, Tucson, and nearby cities. The U.S. nationwide rollout will be completed by 2024.  

The Hamburglar 

According to the company, McDonald’s improved burgers are so enticing, the Hamburglar, who first appeared in McDonald’s ads in 1971, couldn’t stay away. In McDonald’s press release, it calls the character a “resident mischief-maker” because he is always trying to steal hamburgers. He wears a black and white striped outfit, a burger tie, a black mask, a black and yellow hat, red gloves, and a cape.  

The Hamburglar last made an appearance in 2015 to promote McDonald’s limited-time-only sirloin burger. McDonald’s says its classic burgers are cultural icons, so it was fitting to bring back the Hamburglar, a favorite mascot, to spread the word. 

In one of the new ads, the Hamburglar scopes out his local McDonald’s from an adjacent rooftop through binoculars. He observed the burgers are hotter, juicier, and tastier. A voiceover says they are McDonald’s best burgers ever. The second ad depicts a heist in which the mascot makes off with a tray of burgers. 


Recently, McDonald’s has felt inflationary pressure though sales have been strengthened by limited edition adult happy meals and price increases. The chain has been affected by higher costs for ingredients, fuel, and labor. The company is focusing on opening new restaurants both domestic and international to drive growth, finding efficiencies in its operations, and making menu improvements. 

In the Classroom 

This article can be used to discuss advertising (Chapter 12: Dimensions of Marketing Strategy). 

Discussion Questions 

  1. Why do companies like McDonald’s use mascots? 
  2. Make a list of the ways seemingly minor changes such as the ones mentioned in the article can affect a restaurant, from operations to marketing. 
  3. Why do you think McDonald’s only periodically uses the Hamburglar? 

This article was developed with the support of Kelsey Reddick for and under the direction of O.C. Ferrell, Linda Ferrell, and Geoff Hirt. 


Brandon Sapienza, "McDonald’s Brings Back the Hamburglar to Promote Burger Changes," Bloomberg, April 17, 2023, 

Brittaney Kiefer, "McDonald’s Hamburglar Comes Out of Hiding To Steal Newly Improved Classics," Adweek, April 17, 2023,  

Heather Haddon, "McDonald’s Sales Boosted by Adult Happy Meals, Price Increases," The Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2023,  

About the Author

O.C. Ferrell is the James T. Pursell Sr. Eminent Scholar in Ethics and Director of the Center for Ethical Organizational Cultures in the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, Auburn University. He was formerly Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Business Ethics at Belmont University and University Distinguished Professor at the University of New Mexico. He has also been on the faculties of the University of Wyoming, Colorado State University, University of Memphis, Texas A&M University, Illinois State University, and Southern Illinois University. He received his Ph.D. in marketing from Louisiana State University.

Profile Photo of OC Ferrell