Taco Bell’s breakthrough into fast food advertising for breakfast

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Live más, and say adios to your boring breakfast sandwich. Actually, Taco Bell wants you to “defect” from your standard sunrise sammy altogether.

That’s the premise of the newly released ad touting the Mexican chain’s foray into the early morning menu market. It’s no secret that the Golden Arches have solidified their standing as fast food marketing breakfast leaders, however Taco Bell, long considered the “scrappy underdogs” – known more for late-night Crunch Wraps than early a.m. bacon and eggs – emerge to break you free from “circular sameness.” Taco Bell’s new, rather somber, campaign reimagines McDonald’s promise of happiness – with a darkened spin. Envision good ol’ Ronald McDonald, only this version has sunken eyes and a harrowing smile, and serves as the totalitarian dictator of the dystopia, Routine Republic, with oppressed citizens underwhelmed by uninspired Egg McMuffins. The grey cement walls of a drab city are covered in majestic sunrise propaganda posters, declaring “Same breakfast, same routine, same smile” with the loudspeaker ironically announcing how wonderful and happy everyone supposedly should be. Meanwhile, just across a filthy ball pit and a field of land mines that explode with glitter (arguably the less violent, similarly traumatic equivalent), is a world where people enjoy hexagonal breakfast foods, sunshine, and a spectrum of color. The protagonists of the story, a brooding male character and his attractive female counterpart, are finally fed-up with “sameness” and escape (set to the anthem of rebellious teens everywhere, “Blitzkreig Bop”).

As far as production goes, the concepts are incredibly imaginative. From the communist-era artwork of the propaganda posters, to the dingy yellow tube slide the army of unsettling…

As far as production goes, the concepts are incredibly imaginative. From the communist-era artwork of the propaganda posters, to the dingy yellow tube slide the army of unsettling Ronald McDonald lookalikes slide down, the ad exudes McDonald’s “breakfast tyranny”. But, at the same time, “it can’t help but come across as some kind of Meta wormhole, like a microcosm of capitalism trying to devour itself. A smaller fast-food giant is knocking a bigger goliath for creating a fantastical totalitarian communist state,” as AdWeek puts it.

Another interesting twist is how cheekily Taco Bell compares the fast food marketing frontrunner to communism and the associated regimes of Stalin and Mao. Of course, it’s entirely possible that Taco Bell’s target young adult demographic might not be as familiar with communism in the same regard as their older counterparts, but the inferences remain. In fact, media outlets including USA Today and Fortune magazine recently compared the ad to a Hunger Games and Divergent-like dystopia – with no mention of communism parallels at all.

Overall, though, this fast food marketing campaign has the potential to deliver for Taco Bell – as the decided underdog, they’re clearly pulling out all the stops to make a name for themselves in the pre-lunchtime race. And while the concept isn’t necessarily the most original (think: Apple’s 1984-inspired Super Bowl commercial for the Macintosh), it does appear to fall in line with the company’s branding strategy. While McDonald’s has been actively trying to shed its image of being over-processed and unhealthy, Taco Bell has no shame in being, well, somewhat of both. Their commercials and promotions, unlike Mickey D’s, don’t include aspects like health benefits or number of calories – quite frankly, no one in the Taco Bell drive-thru is really fretting over how many grams of fat is in a Doritos Locos Taco (the answer: a lot). Taco Bell has built its reputation on putting interesting ingredients inside their popular burritos, catering to the late-night revelers with an affinity for fire sauce. In keeping with their core branding, it just makes sense for Taco Bell to think outside the McMuffin in terms of breakfast food and advertising (perhaps we should go ahead and trademark that one).

Besides, Taco Bell is undoubtedly aware of the fact that we both know I’m not picking up an A.M. Crunch Wrap as a result of it being a balanced way to start my morning; I’m waiting in the drive-thru for my alternative to “circular sameness” simply because it just sounds pretty dang good.

Looking for a thought provoking, head-turning strategy to better position your brand? BIGEYE is ready to help – contact us today at 407.839.8599 to start the conversation!

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