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Lessons From the McDonald's-Taco Bell Breakfast War

Here's what you can learn from the companies' clever attempts to one-up each other's advertisements.

Now that Taco Bell has charged into the $50 billion fast food breakfast market, it finds itself locked in a battle with McDonald's to woo customers.

On March 26, Taco Bell rolled out an ingenious ad featuring 25 men named Ronald McDonald touting the virtues of the chain's new breakfast menu, including its waffle taco. The following day McDonald's tweeted its response:  "Breaking! Mayor McCheese confirms: Ronald, in fact, still prefers McDonald's."

A day later McDonald's fired off another scathing tweet: a picture of its own Ronald McDonald bending down to pet a chihuahua with the phrase, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." The company also announced it will offer free cups of its McCafé coffee during breakfast hours from March 31 through April 13.

With a 25 percent share of the fast food breakfast market, McDonald's doesn't appear to have much to worry about. However, the company is making a smart move to challenge Taco Bell in such a creative way. 

For advertisements to truly resonate on social media, they need to be fun and inventive. To even get any traction at all, they must entertain in some way.

McDonald's response to Taco Bell satisfies all the requirements and encourages customers to get in on the fun by waiting to see what the brands come up with next. If Taco Bell manages to respond with something as clever as its first ad, perhaps its customers will similarly be inspired to join the battle on social media.

IMAGE: Courtesy Company
Last updated: Mar 31, 2014

JILL KRASNY | Staff Writer

Jill Krasny is a staff writer for Inc. magazine, where she covers the intersection of entertainment and startups. Prior to Inc., she was a writer for MTV and Esquire and an editor at TheStreet. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in communication. She lives in New York City.

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