Let’s take a moment and contemplate the feat of engineering that is the Egg McMuffin. Consistently circular, matched with an equally round egg patty, Canadian bacon and a slice of hearty American cheese, this McDonald’s breakfast staple was very recently at the center of a full fledged marketing war.
Yes, with its recent “Routine Republic” ad campaign, Taco Bell has officially raised the ante in its long rivalry with McDonalds. While it is inherently ironic, and completely misleading, the ads and artwork crafted by the “Mexican” fast food chain are sly and what can only be called, brilliant marketing.
Take a look.
The video begins with a TV screen flickering on by itself and spewing propaganda, very 1984. With this campaign video Taco Bell portrays a dystopia where a Stalin-like and clownish dictator controls his population through bland, round breakfasts that are always the same—and that’s happiness.
Things get interesting when the heroes of the sequence, a guy and a girl, decide to ditch their usual breakfast and climb over the wall to a happier reality, where breakfast is hexagonal rather than circular (unquestionably a major improvement).
The rebel couple is chased by police with clown faces, and the comical climax occurs when they have to jump over a ball pit and climb through a poorly hidden hole in the concrete dividing wall. All this fleeing is accompanied by a classic Ramones number that just screams cliche rebellion.
So how exactly is this a stab at McDonalds? First of all, the dictator is clown, obstacles include play slides and ball pits, the colors are Ronald McDonald’s brand colors, and the whole play on “happiness” is no doubt a reference to Happy Meals. And then, of course, we must return to the glorious McMuffin, which is sadly the very round breakfast option that Taco Bell is so ardently against.
The video, the posters and the website that make up this campaign are lovely from a marketing perspective, and one ought to give Taco Bell props on the creativity and effectiveness of their brainstorming. However, before signing off for this blog post, I must point out an inherent irony that is just too fantastic not to notice.
The sad truths is that, at the core of this thing, our Routine Republic heroes really just trade in one tyrannical breakfast shape for another. Taco Bell might be a smaller fast food chain than McDonald’s, but they’re no underdog or victim.
Indeed, Taco Bell is also a giant fast food chain that produces food en masse. And while they may have just released their breakfast menu, that doesn’t mean that it’s not going to be the same thing at every franchise, all the time.
So there you have it, the poor Egg McMuffin has been put it in its place. Which fast food item do you think will go next?