Even Ronald McDonald is thumbing his nose at McDonald's.
Make that lots of Ronald McDonald's -- with an assist from Taco Bell.
Taco Bell gathered 25 guys coast-to-coast, whose real names just happen to be Ronald McDonald, and is featuring them in a new ad that extols – at the expense of McDonald's -- the Mexican fast-food chain's new breakfast program rolling out nationally on Thursday.
The tongue-in-cheek ad begins with a narrator offering this: "To show you just how much people are loving Taco Bell's all new breakfast, we asked some very special people."
Next, a handful of folks introduce themselves one-by-one, as Ronald McDonald. Each, of course, is a big fan of the new Taco Bell breakfast. The ad ends with the group of 25 seated together all saying unison: "My name is Ronald McDonald, and I love Taco Bell's new breakfast."
The ad, created by the agency Deutsch L.A., ends with the narrator offering this: "Breakfast anybody can love -- even Ronald McDonald."
While the ad has a big smile factor, there's nothing funny about the on-going fast food wars, which has the $200 billion industry battling for share in one of the few remaining growth areas: breakfast. Breakfast is about a $50 billion segment in fast food, estimates the research firm Technomic. Even though McDonald's is far-and-away the industry leader at breakfast with about a 25% market share, Taco Bell and others sense that the fast-food giant is more vulnerable than its been in years.
"Our customers have asked us to do breakfast because there's a sea of sameness in breakfast sandwiches," says Brian Niccol, president of Taco Bell.
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Taco Bell's three key breakfast offerings: The Waffle Taco (warm waffle wrapped around sausage patty or bacon with eggs, cheese and syrup; A.M. Crunchwrap (scrambled eggs, hash browns, cheese and bacon or sausage in a flour tortilla; Cinnabon Delights (poppable Cinnabon treats).
The entire breakfast menu has 14 items that cost from $1 to $2.49. Most Taco Bells will open for breakfast at 7 AM, or earlier.
At one point, Taco Bell had identified as many as 400 people named Ronald McDonald, but ultimately focused on the 25, says Niccol. The ad, created by the agency Deutsch L.A., was filmed last month in Los Angeles
Niccol, who will be in New York on Thursday, says he already has early plans for breakfast -- at Taco Bell.