Taco Bell's new TV ads star 'Ronald McDonald'

NEW YORK (AP) -- Taco Bell is name-dropping an unlikely clown to promote its new breakfast menu - Ronald McDonald.

The fast-food chain will begin airing ads Thursday that feature everyday men who happen to have the same name as the McDonald's mascot known for his bright red hair and yellow jumpsuit. The marketing campaign is intended to promote Taco Bell's new breakfast menu, which features novelties like a waffle taco.

The chain, owned by Yum Brands Inc. of Louisville, Ky., is looking to boost sales by opening most of its roughly 6,000 U.S. stores a few hours earlier at 7 a.m. starting this week. But Taco Bell has a long way to go to catch up with McDonald's, the No. 1 player in breakfast with about 31 percent of the category, according to market researcher Technomic. The popularity of Egg McMuffins and other items have been a consistent sales driver for McDonald's over the years, with breakfast accounting for about 20 percent of the company's U.S. sales.

By comparison, a Yum executive has said that breakfast accounted for just 4 percent of sales when it was being tested at Taco Bell stores in select markets. That was before national marketing began, however, and Taco Bell president Brian Niccol said in a phone interview that the goal was to get the figure to a level "much greater than that."

Taco Bell said the real-life Ronald McDonalds featured in its new ads were paid for their appearances. But Niccol, who said he didn't know how much they were paid, insists their enthusiastic reactions to the food were real.

"All of them resoundingly loved the food," he said.

Taco Bell's ad agency, Deutsche LA, found around 400 men and women with the name Ronald McDonald, Ronnie McDonald or some variation, Niccol said. A couple dozen were selected to represent different regions around the country including Bossier City, La.; Chicago; Dubuque, Iowa; Kane, Pa. and Worcester, Ma.

The men show their approval of the food with comments like, "It's not messy" and "Mmm, wow" and "Mmm, real good" and "It has everything I like."

In case it wasn't clear, tiny print at the end of the ad notes that, "These Ronald McDonalds are not affiliated with McDonald's Corporation and were individually selected as paid endorsers of Taco Bell Breakfast."

"We like to do things with a wink and smile," Niccol said. "We have a sense of humor."

As for Ronald McDonald the fast-food clown, the character was first played by Willard Scott in 1963. He was initially depicted as a character that magically pulled hamburgers and fries out of his belt. But the mascot eventually became a target of critics who say McDonald's uses him to market to kids.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

or Subscribe now so you can share your opinion! It’s only a penny for a month trial.

Latest Forecast
More National News
Do obese women have 'food learning impairment'?
Do obese women have 'food learning impairment'?

Do obese women have a 'food learning impairment'? A new Yale University study suggests it's true.

Chicago, REO Speedwagon join forces on tour
Chicago, REO Speedwagon join forces on tour

Two iconic rock bands from Illinois will hit the road together for the first time this summer in a co-headlining tour.

Top 3 outrageous headlines of the week
Top 3 outrageous headlines of the week

Here are the top three outrageous headlines of the week.

GE selling Apollo 11-esque moon boot sneakers
GE selling Apollo 11-esque moon boot sneakers

Forty-five years after Neil Armstrong took a giant leap for mankind, General Electric has taken a small step — into shoe design.

Is anyone still watching Syria's civil war?
Is anyone still watching Syria's civil war?

Syria is home to the world's longest-running and deadliest civil war. 

When do executive orders go too far?
When do executive orders go too far?

On this week's podcast we ask: what are executive orders for and what can the president do with them? What’s considered…

Google won't call games with in-app add-ons free
Google won't call games with in-app add-ons free

Google will no longer call apps in its Google Play store "free" if they have in-app purchases.

Do alcoholic energy drinks increase drinking?
Do alcoholic energy drinks increase drinking?

A new study suggests mixing alcohol and energy drinks gives you more energy to stay up and drink more.  

5-Hour Energy sued over ad claims
5-Hour Energy sued over ad claims

Two attorneys general from the Northwest have sued the companies responsible for the popular 5-Hour Energy drink, alleging they engaged in…

Harper Lee and the challenge of privacy
Harper Lee and the challenge of privacy

Why is it the more people like Harper Lee want privacy, the more they are preyed upon? I wish I could apologize on behalf of writers and…