Taco Bell’s Clever Campaign to Eat McDonald’s Breakfast
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The Fiscal Times
March 27, 2014

The wait for the Waffle Taco is over, and the battle over your breakfast is now really on.

Some two years after it started testing its “First Meal” items, Taco Bell’s breakfast menu launched nationwide today. The new products — including that “revolutionary” waffle wrapped around a sausage patty or bacon, with scrambled eggs, cheese, and a side of syrup — have been the subjects of plenty of hype as Taco Bell looks to lure millennials, double its sales to $14 billion and add 2,000 restaurants by 2022.

That buzz — or is it a collective national groan? — only got louder with the clever ad campaign, created by Interpublic’s Deutsch Los Angeles, accompanying the rollout. Taco Bell, owned by Yum Brands, got a bunch of guys whose names are really Ronald McDonald to endorse its new menu items. “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,” reads the fine print. Watch one of the ads here:

The already-crowded breakfast business has been one of the few bright spots for restaurants in recent years, with morning visits to eateries up 3 percent last year over 2012, according to NPD data cited by AdAge. McDonald’s, with its Egg McMuffins and hash browns, still dominates fast food at that time of day, with about 30 percent of all sales in the category, according to industry research firm Technomic. Breakfast items account for about a fifth of McDonald’s U.S. sales.

Taco Bell clearly wants a bite of that business, and is hoping the Waffle Taco and A.M. Crunchwrap succeed where other Egg McMuffin challengers have failed. The company has described its new breakfast expansion as the largest in its history, so it’s no surprise that the marketing blitz behind it will also be the largest in the chain’s more than 50-year history. Get ready to see lots of Ronald McDonalds.

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Executive Editor Yuval Rosenberg oversees coverage of business, the economy, technology and Wall Street. A former web editor at WNYC, Fortune and Newsweek, he also writes on a wide range of subjects.