When you're a breakfast upstart like Taco Bell, how do you launch into a category where every fast-food outlet stagnates in the shadow of the Golden Arches?
Well, first you find Errol Morris. Then you find a bunch of guys named Ronald McDonald and feed them breakfast tacos.
Morris, one of the most respected directors in film and advertising, worked with Deutsch L.A. to film spots that feature real people named Ronald McDonald enjoying Taco Bell's new breakfast menu items, like the A.M. Crunchwrap and Sausage Flatbread Melt. (UPDATE: See the behind-the-scenes story of how they got this group together at the bottom of this post.)
In terms of creative execution, there's not a whole lot to the spots. We see Ronalds from all walks of life eating some Taco Bell breakfast and then talking about how great it is. They don't specifically trash McDonald's, but the narrator closes with the line, "Delicious new breakfast everyone can love, even Ronald McDonald."
Of course there's a mouthful of an on-screen legal disclaimer, but the ad team even had a little fun with that: "These Ronald McDonalds are not affiliated with McDonald's Corporation and were individually selected as paid endorsers of Taco Bell breakfast, but man, they sure did love it."
Light-hearted jabs aside, Deutsch says it wanted to create an idea that broke away from the traditional beauty shots of hot and fresh food.
"The advertising had to have a scale that befitted the challenge of launching an entirely new day-part for Taco Bell. Something that had food and price wasn't enough," Deutsch L.A. CEO Mike Sheldon said in a statement. "It had to be something that caused a cultural conversation about what we eat for breakfast."
So now that Taco Bell has positioned itself as the T-Mobile to McDonald's AT&T, will the fast-food front-runner fire back? It's doubtful, but if McD's could find someone named Taco Bell and get footage of him (or her) inhaling an Egg McMuffin—well, then we'd really have advertising gold on our hands.
UPDATE: Here's a behind-the-scenes clip posted on April 3 by Taco Bell, including some interesting interviews about what it's like to grow up named Ronald McDonald:
Client: Taco Bell
Chief Marketing Officer: Chris Brandt
Brand Creative Director: Tracee Larocca
Director, Brand Experience: Aron North
Manager, Brand Experience: Ashley Prollomante
Agency: Deutsch L.A.
Chief Creative Officer: Pete Favat
Executive Creative Director: Brett Craig
Experiential Executive Creative Director: Daniel Chu
Creative Director: Jason Karley
Creative Director: Josh DiMarcantonio
Integrated Creative Director: Xavier Teo
Senior Art Director: Jeremiah Wassom
Senior Copywriter: Armando Samuels
Experiential ACD: Amy Boe
Experiential Copywriter: Catharine Ogletree
Director of Integrated Production: Vic Palumbo
Executive Producer: Paul Roy
Senior Producer: Alison McMahon
Music Supervisor: Dave Rocco
Production: Moxie Pictures
Director: Errol Morris
Director of Photography: Dariusz Wolski
Executive Producer: Robert Fernandez
Line Producer: Julie Ahlberg
1st A.D.: Rick Lange
Product Footage: Woodshop Studios Inc.
EP: Sam Swisher
Director: Trevor Shepard
Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Grant Surmi
Assistant Editor: Arielle Zakowski
Executive Producer: C.L. Weaver
Producer: Shada Shariatzadeh
Post Facility: A52
Colorist: Paul Yacono
VFX Supervisor: Andy Barrios
Lead Flame Artist: Brendan Crockett
Executive Producer: Megan Meloth
Producer: Meredith Cherniack
Music: Kusiak Music
Composer: John Kusiak
Audio Post: Lime Studios
Mixer: Mark Meyuhas
Assistant: Matt Milller
Producer: Jessica Locke