McDonald's (MCD, Fortune 500) new mascot, Happy, has been called "terrifying." And so it is, at least to some observers, what with its oversized, human-looking teeth; its crazed, bulging eyes; and its freakishly attenuated arms. But it's disturbing on another level, too: it was clearly the work of a focus-group-driven corporate bureaucracy trying to satisfy a lot of internal constituencies, as opposed being the original work of a creative team.
Obviously inspired in part by Spongebob Squarepants, it's easy to imagine that Happy was tested and retested, subjected to the scrutiny of a battery of consultants, and tweaked and retweaked until nobody was offended. That was until it was unleashed on the public -- at which point nearly everybody was offended. But as horrifying as Happy might be, he's got lots of company. See who else makes consumers squirm.