Taco Bell's Ads Star Real-Life Ronald McDonalds

Taco Bell-Ronald McDonald
Taco Bell via Taylor Strategy/APThis frame grab of a video shows Ronald McDonald of Oak Ridge, N.C., in a Taco Bell commercial.

NEW YORK -- 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 (MCD) 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 (YUM) 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 out of his belt. But the mascot eventually became a target of critics who say McDonald's uses him to market to kids.

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I used to support taco bell. Hey, its fast food, whud you 'spect for that price? Used to like the bean burrito and the 7 layer burrito gave a lot of bang for the buck. Its just that the place cuts so many corners now it simply isn't worth going in. Started eating at Taco Bill in Ohio in the mid 70's. Tuesdays 3 tacos or 3 burritos for a dollar. Ohio has more Taco Bells per square inch than anywhere in the US. Cheap and fast.

The place where I went for years, Taco Bell in Kennett Square, PA is a sad example. The service is so incredibly slow at the counter that EVERYONE goes through the drive through. Problem is that the drive through line is so incredibly LONG and SLOW that you're almost tempted to park and go inside. You park and go inside. Two or three customers waiting for orders and the place is otherwise empty. WHY? because all the service is for the drive through customers. The food? The last several times I got the 7 layer burrito in was 3 or 4 layers and tiny. Rice, sour cream, tomatos a little guac (maybe) and a taste of onion. Cheese and beans? They stopped put them on all together. Place is filthy dirty. One employee at the line making food and one working each register. Three or four others just standing around joking while the drive through line hits 10 cars long. Nobody making the food.

So. Fast food at cheap prices and convenient? Portions cut significantly, poorly made, very long wait and NO convenience. Sadly I have bid adieu to Taco Bell after nearly 40 years. Last time I went I got 2 seven layer burritos. They were so bad I simply tossed them out the car window on the way home.

March 28 2014 at 8:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I saw that ad tonight for the first time during the NCAA tournament. I think it's a good gimmick that will work. My high school son works part-time at McDonald's. He said that just wasn't right, lol.

March 28 2014 at 1:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


March 27 2014 at 8:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


March 27 2014 at 8:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

bring back taco viva

March 27 2014 at 6:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Steak n Shake still makes the best burger in the USA!

March 27 2014 at 4:14 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Actually, the best thing about Taco Bell is, the competition. 20 years ago, or in that time frame, it was time for lunch. So for 2 straight days I drove to a Taco Bell, and ate in the restuarant. Don't ask me what I ate. Then as I am driving back to work, I have to pull over, each time. I was getting sick. So I puked in the street, and each time, it was about a block from the other. So do yourselves a favor. Avoid Taco Bell. I couldn't sue because the eveidence was on the street. Hell human waste is probably tastier! (Just saying, and no I never tasted it)

March 27 2014 at 2:36 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ae12wrangell's comment
Vince Vincent

del taco better;)

March 27 2014 at 3:09 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Vince Vincent's comment

Del Taco is a MUCH smaller chain so it's not an option for most of America.

March 27 2014 at 3:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

I tried the new Taco Bell Breakfast this morning and it was all tasteless crap. The sausage waffle taco was pathetic and small. The breakfast burrito again had no taste. You have to add salsa or syrup for it to be good at all...Would not try it again. Not sue how Taco Bell made sausage taste so bland but they have...

March 27 2014 at 2:14 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to slaghtrstyle's comment

can u say fillers and cheimails

March 28 2014 at 12:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Saw this ad this morning and it got my attention. Advertising doesn't have to be smart or clever, it just have to be effect . I think this ad works at getting your attention and that's all they wanted to do.

March 27 2014 at 2:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I go to KFC and Taco Bell, and McDonalds, I find this very childish of Taco Bell owners to stoop so low. It may sound funny in the board room during a meeting, but to put it out there, disgusting and scummy

March 27 2014 at 12:48 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply