McDonald’s is calling on fans to help catch the Hamburglar, an antagonistic mascot who is again on the prowl as part of the fast food chain’s nationwide rollout of a revamped burger menu, according to a press release.
The Hamburglar is now cruising in a custom 1970 Plymouth Barracuda dubbed the Burgercuda. Eagle-eyed consumers who spot the getaway vehicle can scan a code to receive a gift card and Hamburglar-themed merchandise.
Those who miss the muscle car out in the wild can visit a website to enter for the chance to win free burgers for a year. McDonald’s is attempting to extend a run of successes that have involved deploying nostalgic mascots with modern marketing tactics.
McDonald’s brought back the Hamburglar last April when announcing changes coming to its classic burger lineup, which includes the signature Big Mac sandwich. The introduction of the Burgercuda serves to raise awareness and drive traffic around the nationwide availability of the revamped menu. The new burgers are made with softer buns, more melted cheese, heftier sauce portions and a different prep process, adding white onions to patties while they’re still cooking on the grill to improve juiciness and flavor.
The fast food chain is hoping to entice customers to try out the retooled offerings by staying on the lookout for a vintage muscle car that is traveling from coast to coast. The Burgercuda has several calling cards that should make it easier to spot in a crowd and scan for the chance to win rewards like an Arch Card. Those include black-and-white stripes matching the Hamburglar’s signature attire; bun-shaped hub caps and a spare tire outfitted as a giant cheeseburger; a “burger warmer” in the center console; and a hood scope and license plate reading “RBL RBL,” a reference to the mascot’s “robble, robble” catchphrase.
PR agency Golin came up with the idea for the Burgercuda, while the vehicle was built with help from Sean Smith Designs.
McDonald’s has periodically let the Hamburglar loose for marketing purposes, including in 2015, when the mischief-loving character was reimagined as a grizzled human man. That redesign proved divisive, and the latest burger-stealing spree follows the return of the retro, stylized version of the antagonist who first debuted in the ‘70s.
The Golden Arches owner has recently dusted off several old marketing chestnuts, overhauling campaigns and characters once targeted squarely at kids as nostalgia ploys catering to Gen Z and millennials. A celebration of Grimace’s birthday last year became a viral hit after people began filming parody videos about the horrific side effects of drinking a purple milkshake associated with the promotion. McDonald’s in November resurrected its McNugget Buddy collectibles for the first time in 25 years as part of a collaboration with artist and streetwear influencer Kerwin Frost.
The combination of menu innovation and savvy creative has boosted growth. McDonald’s saw same-store sales, a key metric of restaurant health, up 8% year-over-year in Q3, though the company is contending with the loss of some low-income diners due to inflation.