The terrifying new McDonald's mascot –and other creepy corporate monsters

Meet Happy, the new McDonald's mascot.

Customers in the US got their first glimpse of him in a tweet on Monday night. And unfortunately Happy did not make people happy. He made them scared. Or at least that was the majority verdict on Twitter: #FiveSeasons&AFamily: @McDonalds might want to go back to the drawing board, I think I'm going to have nightmares. steev @Naive_Steve Follow @applextree @McDonalds it's the meal that eats you.

You can see where these people are coming from. But Happy is in good company. Mascots are often terrifying. They are all Frankenstein's monsters, in one way or other, the alter ego of a brand, an event, a campaign. There is always a sense of someone else hidden inside the suit. That is scary. And they want to make you like them just a little bit too much. So don't panic, Happy, here are some equally creepy playmates for you:

The Burger King

The inaugural ruler of Burger King was a jaunty fellow with a lopsided crown. He appeared on a sign at the first restaurant, in Miami in 1955, and underwent changes over the decades. But it was in 2003, when Crispin Porter + Bogusky took over the advertising account, that the Burger King got creepy. In TV ads, he popped up in people's beds. His face is a rigid plastic mask, yet his hands are human. In retrospect, the Jimmy Savile-style jewellery also looks ill-advised. The king was killed off in 2011.

M&Ms Candy Man

He wore yellow dungarees and sang to children about chocolate-covered nuts. And he kept singing until they followed him – because "the Candy Man can". Haven't those kids seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Like Ronald McDonald, the Candy Man is in the clown mould of mascot. He claims to be benevolent but he behaves like the villain in an educational video on stranger danger.

Mr Balls

Mr Balls, otherwise known as Senhor Testiculos. Now, Mr Balls has an important job to do. He is the mascot for a campaign to raise awareness of testicular cancer in Brazil, "a friendly snowman in the shape of testicles". So well done for that, Mr Balls. But still, he is kind of hard to look at, which may not be optimal for a mascot. To be fair, his facial expression, examined in isolation, is jolly. But the hairs that sprout from his scrotum, which after all comprises most of his body, are a little offputting. And his cheeks, pouched in a permanent smile, resemble two miniature, misplaced testicular sacs. Perhaps that's a symptom to look out for.


Olympics mascots are habitually awful. Izzy, the official mascot of the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, was initially designed as a blob with a tail, an appearance that earned him the nickname "sperm in sneakers". After that, he grew long legs and lost his bottom teeth. (Not to be tried at home, even if you do want to look more approachable.) But by then the damage was done.