The battle for breakfast has been revitalized with the March 27th introduction of Taco Bell’s breakfast menu.
The competition for breakfast sales has grown in recent years as the demand for early morning fast food items continues to increase. McDonald’s has dominated the market for years, but many other chains have been trying to snag a piece of their success. Taco Bell is the next contender in the battle, but will their position as a Tex-Mex restaurant make it more difficult to succeed?
The pressure to be the top fast food breakfast chain has led to brands introducing and reintroducing their breakfast menus. In 2004, Burger King introduced their horrifying response to Ronald McDonald with their “Wake Up With the King” campaign. The ads featured the modern day version of “The King” – a character dressed in robes with a cartoonish and gigantic plastic head. Many found the new character to be creepy, but that was what helped the ads succeed for Burger King. At the time, McDonald’s was the only brand consumers thought of when it came to fast food breakfast, they had to make something memorable.
Unfortunately for Burger King, the campaign wasn’t memorable enough. In 2010, they created another ad to remind consumers that they still sold breakfast.
Subway is one of the newest contenders in the fight, but breakfast isn’t new territory for them. Their first breakfast menu was introduced in 1986. Over time, they dedicated their sandwich artistry exclusively to lunch and dinner. It wasn’t until 2010 that they introduced a new national breakfast menu to the United States and Canada. The menu launched with the “Build Your Better Breakfast” campaign, which focused on the customizable options available at Subway – something competitors like McDonald’s and Burger King didn’t have.
The fight for breakfast supremacy has continued to be ruled by McDonald’s, but the newest challenger could crank up the heat. Taco Bell has been pulling out all the stops for the launch of their new menu with bold marketing and advertising stunts.
Leading up to the launch of their breakfast menu, Taco Bell identified 1,000 fast food influencers and mailed them their very own “Breakfast Phone”. The phones come with seemingly simple instructions: “Keep it With You Always”.
The Breakfast Phones would alert the selected 1,000 of various missions to complete as they competed for varied and sometimes strange Taco Bell themed prizes, including AM Crunchwrap sheets with hashbrown pajamas, Waffle Taco apparel, or free Taco Bell breakfast for a year.
In addition to the innovative Breakfast Phone experiment, Taco Bell has expanded their campaign to include ads on Instagram, Snapchat, Pandora, and Vine, along with an AMA on Reddit and a series of commercials involving another famous name in fast food: Ronald McDonald.
Taco Bell has been receiving a ton of media coverage with their new ads featuring many different Ronald McDonald’s, but Jack in the Box was the first to get an endorsement from Ronald MacDonald in 2002.
Jack in the Box chose a man with a slightly different spelling for their ad, but Ronald MacDonald was already a loyal Jack in the Box consumer and more than happy to be featured in the ads. Taco Bell has not yet commented on the Jack in the Box commercial.
The direct attack on McDonald’s has resulted in a bitter breakfast battle that continues to rage on. McDonald’s is offering free coffee during breakfast hours until April 13 and created a simple ad firing back at Taco Bell.
McDonald’s made a recent Throwback Thursday post that paid tribute to their signature breakfast item, the Egg McMuffin. Taco Bell rolled out a commercial a few days later poking fun at the vintage sandwich, making it seem outdated and out of style.
It may be too early in the war to determine which restaurant will come out on top, but it seems that Taco Bell has a firm grasp on how to reach their demographic and are hitting them across all media. McDonald’s may need to step up their advertising efforts if they want to remain at the top of the food chain.
Which brand do you think will succeed?