Taco Bell Casts McDonald’s As Big Brother
Nothing like hitting a guy when he’s down.
Taco Bell has unveiled the latest in its campaign to steal breakfast costumers from McDonalds, casting the burger giant as despot who rules with an iron fist in a land called “Routine Republic.”
A three-minute ad on YouTube sets the stage. In a world that’s dull, gray, mindless and repetitive, “Happiness is eating the same breakfast. Same breakfast, same routine, same smile. Settle is good. Excellent is bad. Routine is delicious. Same, same, same! Different is bad!”
It’s a blatant rip-off of Apple’s seminal 1984 spot and The Ramones are likely spinning in their graves as their raw, anti-establishment “Blitzkrieg Bop” provides the soundtrack for escape from fast food repression. But the campaign is a lot of fun and spot on strategically.
Ironic that McDonald’s, an American icon and poster child for the capitalist dream is depicted as controlling, despotic commies. Ronald McDonald look-alikes, their faces painted like scary clowns, are cast as the oppressors, practically force-feeding the downtrodden people of Routine Republic with thinly disguised Egg McMuffins that are tasteless by implication and blatantly boring.
The communist propaganda approach might fly over the heads of Millennials who may or may not have heard of the Cold War, but portraying McDonald’s as old, tired and boring will not be lost on them.
The message is clear. McDonald’s is the dreary, black & white past and Taco Bell is the colorful, optimistic future. McDonald’s is bland, Taco Bell is flavorful. McDonald’s serves stale, unoriginal, cookie cutter food, while Taco Bell is unique and tasty.
This initiative feels like a real campaign encompassing a big idea, unlike the one-off promotional spots that the fast feeders seem to favor these days. It’s a huge step forward from the previous Taco Bell ads that were focused on a USP, i.e., their breakfast sandwiches can be eaten with one hand, while McDonald’s food requires two, forcing people eating on the run into awkward, embarrassing situations.
TV and print executions (see print ads in the Adweek article here) have a stand-out, high-impact quality about them. Taco Bell has been tweaking McDonald’s for quite some time, starting with their “Think Outside The Bun” tagline, but here they really go for the jugular. There are lots of not-so-subtle digs scattered through the three-minute short film, but the big take away is inescapable. Taco Bell’s breakfast options are not simply a spicy alternative to McDonald’s, they are part of a relevant, thriving culture that’s full of life and imagination while McDonald’s represents a desperate, dying world.
It will be fascinating to see if and how McDonald’s responds. Their options seem to be growing more limited by the day.