Brands Have it Out in Battle for Breakfast

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.

AM Crunchwrap Sheets and Hashbrown Pajamas

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.

Ronald McDonald with Taco Bell Chihuahua

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” – McDonald’s

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?

Native Advertising Catches Audiences Off Guard

Native advertising is on the rise and 2014 is promising to be a big year as agencies explore this new territory.

Native ads easily blend in with the content around them. They are paid media that look and feel like natural content. The concept of native advertising is not entirely new, but the practice has increased in popularity and improved over the past few years.

Two videos came out earlier this month, appearing to exist solely for entertainment and public discussions, but viewers were surprised to find these videos were carefully planned advertisements.

Tatia Pilieva’s video “First Kiss” features twenty strangers kissing for the first time in front of the camera. Just days after its debut, the video has amassed nearly 50 million views. It’s been praised for capturing the raw awkwardness and of meeting someone and the beauty of sharing a first kiss.

The video is actually an advertisement for WREN, a clothing line based in Los Angeles. The 20 strangers featured in the video include actors, models, and singers chosen to kiss while wearing pieces from the clothing line.

Zach Galifianakis is a celebrity in his own right and hosts “Between Two Ferns”, a series of comedic interviews on Galifianakis has interviewed many other celebrities, including Jon Hamm, Bradley Cooper, Justin Bieber, and Jennifer Lawrence, but it was his recent interview with President Barack Obama that had everyone talking this week.

In the video, Obama and Galifianakis exchange comedic blows on each other’s careers and transitions into Obama talking about The interview serves as an advertisement targeting one of’s toughest demographics: Millenials. A spokeswoman for the website reported a 40% increase in traffic after the video debut.

Native advertising helps advertisers creatively engage with their audiences using calculated elements that blend in with their everyday experiences. Sponsored content is only the beginning as agencies work to perfect the technique.

Is native advertising deceptive? Do you have a favorite native ad? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Amplify Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Consumer behavior is changing at a rapid pace, forcing marketers to adapt. You can stay one step ahead of the game by being aware of these forecasted digital marketing trends:

Diversity in Social Media
Social media plays a crucial role in your digital marketing and advertising strategy. A strong social marketing strategy spans across different networks, but understands their audience on each.

Each network has its own set of pros and cons for marketing and different demographics favor one network over another. Experiment with a variety of networks to identify when and where consumers are listening to your brand the most. Pay close attention to social analytics and targeting tools for social ads to make the most of your social strategy.

Mobile Growth
Mobile represents a fundamental shift in the ad market. Mobile advertising grew by 75% in 2013, which is reflective of how consumers are using media today. This growth is expected to continue to rise as consumers become more reliant on their mobile devices.

Brands can take advantage of mobile’s potential by blending their mobile and physical marketing. This includes in-store displays, guest wifi, price matching, apps, and mobile websites.

A powerful mobile marketing strategy needs to consider how consumers use mobile devices throughout the buying cycle. A consumer can research a product at home from their tablet, compare prices in store from their smartphone, and share their experience through post-purchase reviews. Mobile’s biggest advantage is reaching consumers at the right place and time. When mobile users are checking their phone an average of 150 times a day, there’s a lot of opportunity for brands.

Content with Personality
The way we think of advertising is evolving as social media changes the way consumers and brands interact with one another. It’s about finding creative advertising solutions that generate discussion.

Consumers are looking for ways to simplify their lives and improve their experiences. Brands should be providing relevant industry information and brand stories across all social networks. Image-centric posts and simplified copy deliver a quick concise message for consumers.

Eye on the Future
Human innovation and creativity has developed new ways to use technology in marketing. We’ll see a more complex marketing mix as technology continues to improve and brands learn to adapt to new platforms. Ultimately, your success will rely on knowing your market and segments well, along with having the flexibility to adapt to the frequent evolution of media.

Brands With Animal Instincts

Animals have been used for symbolism since ancient times. The earliest animal symbols include cave paintings and hieroglyphics. These icons were able to communicate something through the characteristics and personalities of the animals used. These messages in animal symbolism are often universal, which is why they’ve become such a powerful branding technique.

There are different ways to incorporate animals in branding. Some brands choose animals based on the personality of the company, others pull meaning from the company to project onto the animal, and some choose animals because they sound similar to their brand name. These animals create a quick association with the brand based on the animals selected, which means they should be chosen carefully.

Animals Represent Archetypes
Animals in branding give consumers an idea of what the brand may be like based on the animal they’ve chosen. By choosing an animal that aligns with important aspects of the brand, consumers can quickly associate the brand with specific values.

R.J. Reynolds introduced the Camel cigarette brand in 1913. The brand was one of the first to introduce packaged cigarettes to the market. At the time, people preferred to roll their own, so marketing was difficult. Camel was chosen for both the name and visual identity because it helped connect the brand with their Turkish blend and the exotic mystery of the Middle East. The brand has remained a top competitor in the tobacco industry for over 100 years now.


Dan Maddox and Alan Rauta created a collection of expressive ultramodern furniture in 2013. They needed a brand identity to reflect the colorful nature of their product line. During the branding process, research revealed a bird of paradise called Manucodia, which expresses itself and attracts mates with colorful feathers. This bird was incorporated into the brand identity with a visual representation in the logo and helps convey the brand’s sophisticated style with a colorful and playful nature.

Projecting Brand Meaning onto the Animal
In some cases, the brand gives meaning to the animal instead. These animals are often chosen through some significant connection to the brand.


Lacoste’s iconic crocodile dates back to the inception of the company. René Lacoste was a French tennis player and businessman. He was nicknamed “The Crocodile” because of a bet he once made that promised him a crocodile skin suitcase if he won. Lacoste lost the best, but the nickname stuck. Lacoste would arrive to the tennis courts with a crocodile embroidered on his shirt. He went on to found his own company that produced these shirts to the mass market.


Seldens Designer Home Furnishings has been providing home decor essentials to homes in the Puget Sound region since 1940. As they began their transition into the modern age, they enlisted the help of MVC Agency to undergo a redesign of their brand identity. Research revealed the Selden family crest included an enigmatic waterfowl. To pay tribute to the long family history within the brand, the bird was incorporated into the logo atop a chair.

Sound Association Animals
Some brands choose animals that sound like their brand name. Brand names are easily remembered by the association with an animal and the animal can serve as a mascot or fictional spokesperson.


In 1999, insurance company GEICO faced a problem with their advertising. The Screen Actors Guild strike prevented the use of live actors in commercials. To work around this, The Martin Agency introduced the GEICO gecko, voiced by Kelsey Grammer. In the debut commercial, the gecko steps up to a podium and declares, “This is my final plea: I am a gecko, not to be confused with GEICO, which could save you hundreds on car insurance. So, STOP CALLING ME!” The ads were a huge success and continue to run.


Chester Cheetah serves as the official mascot for the Cheetos brand. He was introduced in 1986 by Brad Morgan for use in television commercials. Chester Cheetah became so popular with children that he had his own games for Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo in 1992. The mascot has grown with his audience and is now targeted for an adult demographic.

Before using an animal in your brand identity, it’s important to consider the following:
• What does this animal represent?
• Will the symbolism translate well in other cultures?
• How unique or distinctive is this animal?
• Is this animal timeless in its alignment with the brand?
• Are there any possible negative associations with this animal?

Ultimately, a brand identity should be built upon research and a strong foundation of brand values before choosing an animal to represent it. The chosen animal should embody brand values and create a persona that people can instinctually relate to and admire. To sustain the relationship between the brand and animal selected, the logo must be carefully designed. The right amount of work and attention to detail in the branding process can result in a truly powerful brand identity.

Barbie is Unapologetic Over Controversial Campaign

Mattel sparked both controversy and confusion when they placed the iconic Barbie doll in Sports Illustrated’s 50th anniversary Swimsuit Issue. The ad placement includes a cover wrap on the outside of 1,000 copies of the magazine and a 4 page advertorial within. To commemorate the event, Barbie has introduced a limited edition Sports Illustrated doll, which is sold exclusively at Target. They also launched a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #unapologetic, which is the stance Mattel is taking on their choice to advertise with Sports Illustrated.


The SI Swimsuit Issue annually sparks conversation about how women are portrayed in the media and Barbie has famously been part of the same discussion. It almost seems natural that these two would join forces, despite the fact that one is targeted to adult men and the other appeals to young girls. Barbie’s blog, written from the doll’s POV, explains the connection:

“I, for one, am honored to join the legendary swimsuit models. The word “model,” like the word “Barbie®,” is often dismissed as a poseable plaything with nothing to say.”

The campaign’s primary goal was to start a conversation, which has certainly happened. The stance Mattel is taking with this campaign is that women can be both beautiful and empowered. Critics, however, feel the campaign has blurred the lines between real women and a plastic toy, which further objectifies the women they claim to empower.

“As a legend herself, and under constant criticism about her body and how she looks, posing in SI gives Barbie and her fellow legends an opportunity to own who they are, celebrate what they’ve accomplished and show the world it’s ok to be attractive AND successful. – in a word: #unapologetic.” Mattel spokeswoman Michelle Chidoni explained in a statement earlier this week.

Barbie has been struggling with her identity in contemporary culture. The brand posted two straight annual declines in revenue, including a 13% drop last quarter. The #Unapologetic campaign is just a launching point for Mattel’s in-house efforts to increase sales and brand awareness for the doll throughout the year.


Will this controversy turn into a marketing success for Mattel and Barbie? According to Mattel, it already has. The limited edition doll, which goes for $19.99 on, was released earlier this week with more than half the inventory selling out within the first two days. The high demand and limited availability has led Ebay sellers to list the doll for $59.99.

Barbie has been an iconic toy for over 50 years, but her identity is now struggling with competitors like Monster High Dolls and the growing popularity of electronics. This campaign serves as a launch point to push Barbie back into the forefront of modern culture, but is this flipped view of feminism the best message to carry her through?

VDay5: Top 5 Quirky Love Songs

Love is a strange thing, but so are people. To celebrate all the strange people and strange love out there this Valentine’s Day, we’ve put together a list of our top 5 favorite quirky love songs. Make sure to put these on your next playlist for that special (and strange) someone.