Jack in the Box Punked McDonald’s With a Real Ronald Long Before Taco Bell Did

Did somebody say Hamburglar?

Headshot of Alfred Maskeroni

Taco Bell earned quite a few chuckles this week for using real people named Ronald McDonald in the first ads for its new breakfast menu—prompting McDonald's to respond that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." But was Taco Bell's campaign even more of an imitation than we thought?

Turns out the "real Ronald McDonald" thing was done in 2002 by our other favorite clown and perennial underdog, Jack in the Box. "I think the Taco Bell-Ronald McDonald campaign is an attention-grabbing idea. That's why we did it 12 years ago," says Rick Sittig, founder and creative director of Jack's agency, Secret Weapon Marketing.

One difference: Jack's Ronald had an extra "a" in his last name, MacDonald. "We went with that Ronald MacDonald because he was happy to do it, good on camera, liked our burger and our attorneys didn't mind the slight spelling difference," says Sittig.

Deutsch declined to comment on the Jack in the Box ad.

Meanwhile, Taco Bell and Deutsch have responded to the McDonald's response with a new Instagram video, in which Ronald takes off his famous stripey socks to reveal some intriguingly fashionable new leggings beneath.

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@maskeroni alfred.maskeroni@adweek.com Alfred Maskeroni is director of video for Adweek.