He declined to detail how much the chain is spending on the push
but noted that it will be bigger than its Doritos Locos Tacos
launch. Taco Bell's parent company, Yum Brands, spent about
$280.3 million on U.S. measured media in the first nine months of
2013, according to Kantar Media.
McDonald's did not return calls for comment by deadline.
Taco Bell will also be making the morning-show rounds, with
appearances on shows like Fox and Friends. Other marketing tactics
will include social media, which Taco Bell has invested heavily in,
along with apps like Instagram. In the last week the chain has been
promoting the launch in unorthodox ways; for example it sent 1,000
prepaid disposable phones to "fans" to go on "brand missions,"
asking them to post photos on Instagram or tweet posts related to
Taco Bell and get rewarded various breakfast-related gifts. That
phone promotion was created by Taco Bell and Publicis Groupe's
DigitasLBi, the chain's digital agency.
Interpublic's FCB handled in-store marketing and
The Ronald McDonalds spots will likely air for the next four
weeks, with more coming later. Mr. Niccol said that the company
will be marketing breakfast for the remainder of the year.
It's not all that common for brands to call competitors out
directly in advertising -- so when they do, consumers take notice,
said Derek Rucker, professor of marketing at Northwestern
University's Kellogg School of Management. "The fact that they're
making this aggressive play is likely to generate a lot of stir,
especially on social media, so you can see their motivation," he
Mr. Rucker noted, however, that the success of the campaign will
hinge on how it is received. "Instead of talking just about your
brand, you're talking about two brands, and consumers can view
calling a competitor out as everything from entertaining to
inappropriate," he said. "It's a strategy that clearly has
Taco Bell has been testing breakfast since early 2012, and the
rollout is certainly well-timed. Breakfast in 2013 logged its
fourth consecutive year of growth for restaurants, while lunch and
dinner continue to decline. In 2013, 12.5 billion breakfast visits
(which accounts for about 21% of all restaurant visits in the
U.S.), were made to U.S. foodservice outlets, up 3% from 2012.
Lunch and dinner visits at restaurants declined 1% in 2013,
according to NPD.
Fast food, which accounts for 80% of total restaurant morning
meals, showed the strongest growth, with a 4% increase over the
prior year. And the forecast looks good: NPD estimates that
fast-food breakfast will grow a cumulative 9% over the next nine
years. By comparison, the industry overall is expected to grow less
than a half a percent each year for the next 10 years.
Because breakfast is the only area of growth for the restaurant
industry, fast feeders like McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, Burger King
and Subway have been ramping up their breakfast menus and
Analysts generally think that if Taco Bell's breakfast is
successful, it could be a game-changer for the company. "They have
a ton of potential for success," said Elizabeth Friend, analyst at
Euromonitor. "Every chain has been trying breakfast, but Taco Bell
has a strong brand and following, and they're riding the momentum
from successful moves they've made in the last couple years."
Those successes are mostly from the Doritos Locos Tacos line of
products, which Ms. Friend said will likely help the brand as it's
introducing novelty items like the waffle taco, the highest-profile
item on the breakfast menu. "They have a reputation for making
crazy new items that might seem totally insane, but have proven
they ultimately work."