Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thinking Inside The Box

If you've logged onto the information superhighway at all this week, you've no doubt noticed that every news outlet in the free world is buzzing about McDonald's new Happy Meal mascot.

Without fail, every single news story I've seen has described the new mascot, with its wild-eyed leer and uncanny valley dentures, as "terrifying." Eh, I'm not seeing it. Off-putting and poorly designed, yes. But terrifying? Maybe if you're one of those goats that faints when startled, but otherwise, nope.

The new spokes-box is imaginatively named "Happy," and I can't help but wonder how many millions of dollars some lucky marketing agency fleeced from McDonald's coffers for this concept. Whatever amount it was, it was too much. It looks like thirty seconds worth of work, tops.

When I was art school, the professors drilled into our heads on a daily basis that taking a product and humanizing it (by giving it a face and appendages) was not only lazy, but the lowest form of graphic design possible. I'd have flunked out of school if I'd come up with something like this. 

In fact one day a fellow student turned in a concept not unlike this one, and I witnessed the professor pretty much throw him out of class, telling him in no uncertain terms that he was washed up before he even started and to find a new major. And yet here's a multi-billion dollar corporation doing the exact same thing. 

It's patently obvious that McDonald's is trying to copy the look and feel of these goddamned things in a transparent attempt to appeal to kids. No amount of denials or money will ever convince me otherwise. 

I mean look at them. Just look! Same basic proportions, same horrifically bulging eyeballs, even the exact same mouth, complete with disturbingly realistic human teeth and lolling tongue. McDonald's might as well just get it over with and call their new mascot a minion.

That said, the new mascot's still nowhere near as creepy as Willard Scott's original Ronald McDonald.

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