Ad of the Day: Taco Bell Recruits Real Ronald McDonalds to Launch Its New Breakfast

Errol Morris finds 25 subversive spokesmen

Headshot of David Griner

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

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."