'Ronald McDonalds' Endorse Taco Bell Breakfast Menu

Taco Bell's marketing barrage for its new breakfast menu — the largest campaign in its history — officially commences today. 

Anchoring the campaign: TV ads that feature men who happen to be named "Ronald McDonald" endorsing the new breakfast offerings.

In the ads, from Deutsch LA, voiceovers set up the joke with statements like, "You will never guess who's loving Taco Bell's new A.M. Crunchwrap." Then men from various geographic areas of the U.S., who happen to share the name of McDonald's' iconic clown mascot, introduce themselves as Ronald McDonald and affirm their enthusiasm for the various new Taco Bell breakfast offerings.

Each of the ads — now viewable on the brand's YouTube channel — includes an on-screen-type statement explaining that "These Ronald McDonalds are not affiliated with McDonald's Corporation and were individually selected as paid endorsers of Taco Bell Breakfast, but, man, they sure did love it."

Taco Bell is betting that taking direct, if playful, hits at McDonald's — by far the nation's #1 choice for out-of-home breakfast, with about 31% of the market, according to foodservice research firm Technomic — will help drive the buzz required to make U.S. consumers diverge from their well-established morning habits to try breakfast at the Mexican QSR.

Asked what share of the breakfast business Taco Bell thinks it can realistically grab, CMO Chris Brandt says: "For us, it's all about becoming a player in breakfast so as to enhance our relevance for consumers. We had virtually no presence at breakfast, but it's one of the fastest-growing dayparts for restaurants in general and QSRs in particular."

Taco Bell is looking to maximize awareness of the new menu with broader-than-usual exposure for its TV ads — running the initial three spots not only in sports and other programming typical for the brand, but also during atypical vehicles like the morning shows, he tells Marketing Daily.

Those initial ads will run until consumers seem to tire of them, and more ads and marketing will follow on an ongoing basis, Brandt reports. "We're in breakfast to stay; it's a new layer for us now," he says. "And we're very aware that this is a marathon, not a sprint."

The campaign also includes radio and digital advertising from Deutsch LA, in-store POP and packaging from FCBLA, and public relations support from Taylor.

Working with DigitasLBi, Taco Bell is also engaging in heavy outreach on its social media assets, including FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Leading up to the campaign's official launch, Taco Bell sent branded "Breakfast Phones" to 1,000 fans, who received coupons and other breakfast themed gifts in return for posting images and tweeting about the new breakfast menu.

Taco Bell executives will be appearing on today's morning TV shows, and its president, Brian Niccol, will participate in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” to chat directly with fans about the new breakfast offerings.<

The Taco Bell Breakfast menu, to be available between 7 and 11 am in 5,500 of the QSR's locations, offers 13 items that also represent something of a change of pace from standard QSR breakfast offerings. Many are designed to be easily held in one hand (enabling Millennials and other mobile device addicts to continue their communications while eating). The items include a Waffle Taco, Cinnabon Delights and a Steak & Egg Burrito, as well as the A.M. Crunchwrap.

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