Posted: April 7, 2014, 2:06 p.m.
by Jonae Shaw.
There’s been a lot of talk about Taco Bell’s recent ad campaign to promote its new breakfast menu. However, people aren’t chatting about what you’d expect. Yes, Taco Bell launching a breakfast menu is buzzworthy, but the real talk has been about its choice of endorser for the ads — Ronald McDonald. Clever, right?
Taco Bell didn’t hire the Ronald McDonald, the infamous clown from its fast-food chain competitor. Instead Taco Bell gathered more than two dozen men whom claim to be the real Ronald McDonald(s) and flew them to Los Angeles, Calif., to star in its ads.
Throughout the different commercials, they eagerly munch on Taco Bell’s newest items: Cinnabon Delights, A.M. Crunchwrap and the Waffle Taco. Between introductions stating they are “Ronald McDonald” and clips of them taking a bite of food, all the Ronald McDonalds offer brief statements on how good the new breakfast items are.
Although the series of ads vary by which Ronald McDonald is featured, each ad ends with the full group of Ronald McDonalds quoting the extremely clever and memorable line, “I’m Ronald McDonald, and I love Taco Bell’s new breakfast.”
I’d say this is one smart public relations strategy. Not only were the ads well-written and clearly promoted Taco Bell’s new menu, but they also took quite a humorous jab at the McDonald’s franchise and its mascot.
However, it was done in a likable manner. Not once did Taco Bell show a clip of a McDonald’s restaurant or the clown associated with its brand. Instead, Taco Bell played off the recognition of the name Ronald McDonald; thus anyone viewing the ad knew what brand they were targeting. If they didn’t realize, Taco Bell went a step further by placing a disclaimer at the bottom of the screen that reads, “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.”
How brilliant! Placing “man, they sure do love it” at the end of the disclaimer was another smart decision. This type of paradoxical endorsement is comical genius. Taco Bell not only used the name association of Ronald McDonald, but it reworded the McDonald’s phrase, “I’m loving it” to benefit its brand.
Taco Bell’s ad campaign demonstrates how the right planning can really get you noticed as a brand. According to its YouTube video, The Backstory, Taco Bell’s ad agency contacted more than 400 people with some variation of the name Ronald McDonald, and then chose a select few for their appearance in the commercials.
They also didn’t pick the McDonald’s franchise just because it would be funny. McDonald’s dominates the fast-food morning sales; thus Taco Bell wanted to highlight why its breakfast menu is better — well, more than 20 Ronald McDonalds say so. Despite the credibility factor of the selected Ronald McDonalds chosen from across the U.S., I still believe it got the right message across: That they’re Ronald McDonald(s), and they “love Taco Bell’s new breakfast.”
Taco Bell made an excellent choice in the planning and execution of its commercial. The ads promote its new product, stay true to Taco Bell’s witty company culture and potentially knock down its competition. If anything, I can’t help to say, “I’m loving it!”