Taco Bell Fires Another Shot In The Breakfast War With McDonald's And Shows Its Chops

Can Taco Bell dethrone McDonald’s in the world of fast food breakfasts? It’s too early to tell if the Tex-Mex brand can snatch market share from its much larger rival, but Taco Bell is making a powerful case for its marketing prowess with its latest efforts.  

Once again, Taco Bell has pulled the trigger in the “breakfast wars.” The brand’s newest 30-second TV spot takes another pointed jab at McDonald’s and positions Taco Bell as not only an alternative fast-food breakfast locale, but also as an antidote to the monotony of the conventional Egg McMuffin.

Set to the tune of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” “Get With the Times” opens on a helplessly out-of-touch man sporting a well-coiffed ‘80s ’do and Don Johnson’s finest rejected “Miami Vice” apparel.

According to the ad, Taco Bell’s innovative breakfast items are the impetus for this man to change his life by updating everything from his haircut and wardrobe to his cellphone. He even goes so far as to (gasp!) take down his Loverboy poster.

The campaign was released only a week after the viral “Ronald McDonaldcampaign, which threw a powerful grenade at McDonald’s, igniting a firestorm of social media and publicity on both sides that has drawn the attention of consumers nationwide. 

“Ronald McDonald” depicts two dozen real-life Ronald McDonalds – actual people who are share the famous clown’s name, not people dressed up like the popular brand mascot – as endorsers for Taco Bell’s new breakfast menu, specifically its Waffle Taco and A.M. Crunchwrap. 

The tongue-in-cheek campaign generated significant buzz for the launch of Taco Bell’s breakfast menu, which according to ABC is its largest marketing push since it was founded over 50 years ago.

It’s now been viewed more than 3.4 million times as well as shared, commented on, and “Liked” on Facebook nearly 30,000 times. Our team at Visible Measures would deem this a home run for Taco Bell. It was certainly an auspicious start to unseat the Golden Arches Goliath, which holds the largest share of the fast food breakfast market at 25%. 

From there, the two brands went back and forth releasing creative over social platforms, and even extending promotions into the real world. With each round, however, Taco Bell seemed to gain the upper hand.

What “Get With the Times,” the second round of assaults on the Golden Arches, shows is Taco Bell’s over-arching strategy. It’s not just attacking McDonald’s. Taco Bell is out to paint its competitor as passé, and its customers as outdated.

By characterizing McDonald’s regulars as a group of which no self-respecting, internet-using person should want to be a part, Taco Bell is forcing viewers to question whether they want to self-identify as loyal McDonald’s patrons. This tactic has worked well in the past for brands like Apple, which succeeded in making Microsoft seem insurmountably uncool with its “Mac vs. PC” campaigns.

Whether consumers are just amused by Taco Bell’s efforts, or whether they will buy into the strategy is yet to be determined. But one thing is clear: McDonald’s, despite its early retorts to Taco Bell’s initial attack, isn’t doing much to help itself. On April 3 (four days before “Get With the Times” went live), McDonald’s posted an image of a 1970’s-styled Egg McMuffin on Facebook, along with the line “Groovin’ since ’72. You dig? #TBT #EggMcMuffin.”

Maybe “Get With The Times” has a point. Maybe Taco Waffles are the wave of the future and maybe (just maybe) the McMuffin really has gone stale.

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2 comments about "Taco Bell Fires Another Shot In The Breakfast War With McDonald's And Shows Its Chops".
  1. Dave Sniadak from Axiom Productions , April 14, 2014 at 2:40 p.m.
    I think what we're forgetting here is that we're talking about $2-3 breakfast items. All these "creative" volleys come with a price. Ironically, while grabbing a quick lunch at Taco Bell today, I overheard a customer comment on how much the prices have increased. I also recall the days when I could get a full tray of food for less than $5...today my total was $5.26. My, how the times they are a changin'. Nice post, Molly!
  2. Mack McCoy from Me, Myself, & I , April 14, 2014 at 11:18 p.m.
    Taco Bell is hitting at the right time and McDonald's is absolutely playing into it. They supported The Olympics even though Russia is hugely homophobic and repressive and now they continue to boast about how groovy they are and the 70s aren't "in" right now. Taco Bell is well positioned to grab some significant share.