‘Hunger Games’ Gone Loco: Taco Bell’s Anti-McDonald’s Ad Features Gestapo Clowns
All’s fair in love and the war for fast-food-breakfast hegemony—which is why Taco Bell just dropped an eggy propaganda bomb on Ronald McDonald’s face.
This three-minute, Orwellian short film featured on Taco Bell’s YouTube channel urges diners to subvert the status quo of $2 breakfasts that you can eat in your car. The production budget must have been through the roof, because if it weren’t for the clown-faced gestapo characters—a slap in the face to McDonald’s that will haunt your dreams forever—and the government employees doling out Egg McMuffin look-alikes, the film might as well be an excerpt from the latest Divergent sequel (McVergent?).
It’s not entirely clear what sparked this blood feud over the $30 billon–per–year fast-food-breakfast market, but it could have been when Taco Bell fired early shots by making a commercial featuring multiple guys named Ronald McDonald endorsing breakfast tacos.
Cheeky marketing shenanigans aside, Taco Bell’s breakfast has been remarkably successful. “We are making money and sustaining it with margins of nearly 21 percent,” Taco Bell CEO David Novak told Quick Service Restaurant News after third-quarter earnings were revealed in 2014. “It killed me for years driving by all those McDonald’s that are full before we even opened our doors.” In the same report, McDonald’s then-CEO Don Thompson claimed the Golden Arches had not been affected by its recent, spicy competition.
The video’s protagonist—a young and attractive Winston Smith–esque guy with a deep love for tortilla-wrapped morning meats—follows an equally young, equally attractive female counterpart into the dangerous world of the Breakfast Revolution. Their symbol of defiance? A hexagon—the shape of Taco Bell’s supposedly revolutionary breakfast item, the A.M. Crunchwrap Supreme.
As a punk track by the Ramones starts playing, the clown cops slide down giant Play Place slides to give the taco heroes chase, and the protagonists jump into a ball pit to escape. You almost lose yourself in the mythos of this brave new world—until you snap back to reality and realize it’s just a commercial for the company that invented something called the Waffle Taco.
Even if Taco Bell ever were to supersede McDonald’s as the nation's fast-food-breakfast juggernaut, it would be pushing the same ingredients wrapped up in a different package. If you are down with the cause, however, Taco Bell has been using the hashtag #BreakfastDefectors and urges you to join the “next generation of breakfast.” See? Taco Bell isn’t the same as McDonald’s: It’s super dope and sick and cool and next-gen and puts Sriracha in burritos and stuff.
Even though Taco Bell is aggressively pushing its breakfast, don’t forget that it’s also open late for Nineteen-Eighty-Fourth Meal.