When one brand goes after its competitor, the backlash, or lack of backlash, is always anticipated. This is especially true when those two brands are fast food giants, Taco Bell and McDonalds. In any marketing situation, a brand’s response to criticism can really make or break the consumer perception of that brand. Recently, Taco Bell decided to push the boundaries of “playing nice” when they released a commercial featuring men from across the United States named Ronald McDonald who all love the Taco Bell “A.M. Crunch Wrap.” This ad was targeted specifically at the popular Golden Arches clown Ronald McDonald because Taco Bell is introducing its first breakfast menu. McDonalds, having the most popular and well-known fast food breakfast menu, became the end of Taco Bell’s clever stunt with the real-life Ronalds. The video below shows the clown’s counterparts enjoying their morning on-the-go wrap.
Taco Bell should have known that McDonalds would not let the passive aggressive commercial go by unnoticed. McDonalds, being seasoned in the art of competition, responded to the attempted attack by Taco Bell with a single Facebook post. The post can be seen below, featuring just the quote “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” accompanied by a photograph of the clown himself petting a small Chihuahua.
Not only does this rebuttal emphasize the fact that the Taco Bell ad drew in attention to McDonalds breakfast, but the photograph also makes the scared and meek-looking Chihuhua seem completely inferior to the looming clown. Playing off of an out-dated, yet memorable symbol of Taco Bell, the talking Chihuahua, was a smart move on the part of McDonalds. The tiny and terrified Chihuahua was used against Taco Bell to symbolize the insignificance of Taco Bell’s breakfast choices in relation to the popular McDonalds breakfast menu.
While this battle between fast food chains seems insignificant in the long-run, it is a helpful reminder to brand managers about the risks and opportunities that can come about when indirectly criticizing a large, well-established competitor in your industry.
Maskeroni, A. (2014, Mar 28). McDonalds has a pretty good comeback to Taco Bell’s hijacking of Ronald. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/mcdonalds-has-pretty-good- comeback-taco-bells-hijacking-ronald-156627
(2014, Mar 26). A.M. Crunchwrap – Guess Who Loves It | 2014 Taco Bell® Breakfast Commercial [Web Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABeRbX7QnuI