#BBCtrending: McDonald's 'terrifying' new mascot

McDonald's new mascot Happy Image copyright McDonalds

Remember Ronald McDonald, Grimace and the Hamburglar? They're among the characters that have appeared in McDonald's marketing campaigns over the years. Now there's a new character in town. But it's received a less than lukewarm welcome on social media.

On Monday, the fast food outlet introduced its latest mascot in the US by tweeting: "Say hello to our newest friend, Happy!" The red, smiling box with big teeth is designed to "bring fun and excitement" to kids meals and help them to make healthier food choices. But Happy triggered a less than happy response on Twitter and has already been dubbed "McScary".

Image copyright Twitter

Dozens tweeted about how "spooky" and "terrifying" Happy was. "Might want to go back to the drawing board," wrote one Twitter user. "I think I'm going to have nightmares," tweeted another. Others remarked on how similar Happy looked to the Microsoft Office character Clippy and the American actor Gary Busey.

Image copyright Twitter

Perhaps most telling about Happy's introduction on Twitter was McDonald's response to the negative reaction. The company is no stranger to fire fighting campaigns that go wrong. Remember #McDStories?

"Happy should probably take another 'selfie' since the first one didn't convey Happy's true personality and purpose," McDonald's director of social media, Rick Wion, told BBC Trending. "We felt it was important to focus on the positive, just as Happy would."

Image copyright @McDonalds

McDonald's official Twitter account responded by tweeting a series of images with captions that made direct references to the criticism. This seemed to sway some. "Aww, they don't look so bad here," tweeted Arthur Baynes in Virginia. Audrey Hungerman in New York was impressed with the approach: "Who knew they had a sense of humour," she tweeted. Others were not convinced. "They're multiplying! Quick run!" wrote Sean C, a social media strategist in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Image copyright McDonalds

Happy is due to be officially launched in the US on 23 May, but the mascot first appeared in France in 2009. "We are confident that once US audiences see Happy's fun-filled videos that they'll get a laugh and be entertained just as audiences across Europe, Asia and Latin America have been," says Rick Wion of McDonald's.

So, is Happy a rip off of Microsoft Office's Clippy? "Happy is Happy," he says, "and no-one else".

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak

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