The Hipster Hamburglar Was a Social Media Hit – and a Sales Flop


Bloomberg Business recently ran an article detailing how McDonald’s re-introduction of the Hamburglar character – now stylish and bearded, rather than cartoonish and creepy – created lots of social media buzz, but there was no corresponding spike in sirloin burger sales.

Any time a campaign falls so far short of expectations, it’s a good idea to do a post-mortem and try to determine what happened. In this instance, we may be looking at a disconnect between the product chosen for promotion – the third-pound sirloin burger was introduced to counter perceptions that McDonald’s food is of low quality; it is both larger and pricier than the typical McDonald’s burger – and the messaging choices. There’s no doubt that a certain segment of McDonald’s target market can be influenced by the Hamburglar – but is that segment consist of the same group of people who were looking for a more upscale burger option?

Part of the reason social media advertising is such a powerful marketing tool is the fact that we have the ability to highly target our messaging. Facebook in particular allows us to determine exactly who will see our posts, and in what quantities. But ultimately, those targeting decisions are made by the brands – not by Facebook. Facebook tries to provide some guidance and insight via their relevance score metric, but quite frankly, if McDonald’s wants to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on ineffective advertising, Facebook is not going to stop them.

Those of us who have more limited budgets than McDonald’s enjoys will have to be more prudent. Ensuring that we’re reaching the customers we want to attract is a good first step. However, it’s equally essential to be certain that the messaging we’re sharing is messaging that will appeal to the audience we’re targeting. If there’s a disconnect between the audience and the messaging, no amount of buzz will translate into sales. You don’t have to take our word for it – you can ask the hipster Hamburglar!

The Hipster Hamburglar Was a Social Media Hit – and a Sales Flop
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The Hipster Hamburglar Was a Social Media Hit – and a Sales Flop
Despite success on social media, McDonald's Hipster Hamburglar campaign didn't translate to sales: the messaging didn't match the audience

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