Taco Bell seeks ‘breakfast defectors’ in its latest campaign

Taco Bell has fired the latest salvo in the year-old fast-food breakfast war, and now it wants its fans to take up arms.

The fast-food chain is targeting plain old English muffins in its latest campaign, “Breakfast Defectors,” launched today, timing it with the launch of a “new generation” of breakfast items that it is introducing into the breakfast category, such as the “Biscuit Taco.”

The first digital spot of the campaign by Deutsch LA, “The Routine Republic,” depicts a dystopian world in which people have kept the same boring fast-food breakfast routine for 40 years.

“We are taking aim at the category of breakfast sandwiches and poking fun at the convention,” said Tracee Larocca, vp of advertising at Taco Bell. “While it may be set in a dark, gray, routine-fueled setting, our tone is still youthful and fun.”

Central to the campaign is a microsite, which fans can visit for a chance to be rewarded for eschewing their old breakfast habits in favor of Taco Bell. Fans can join the movement by completing social missions to unlock custom rewards and can also share their defection stories with custom animated “Breakfast Defector gifs” and the hashtag #breakfastdefector. Several real-life fans also feature in defector spots, where they share why they defected from their usual breakfast routines.

Taco Bell has been aggressively targeting the breakfast market among fast-food chains since last year, when it unveiled a new breakfast menu and a cheeky campaign that took a jab at McDonald’s to go along with it. Its entry was well-timed: Breakfast sales had recently increased in the fast-food sector compared to a decline in lunch and dinner.

According to food market research firm NPD Group, not only do 47 percent of Americans regularly go to restaurants for breakfast, but “quick service” restaurants account for 79 percent of total restaurant morning meals. Further, breakfast is also the only main meal time growing, up by 2 percent in 2014. Taco Bell’s overall ad budget increased from approximately 32.8 million in 2013 to 35.6 million in 2014, according to Kantar Media. While McDonald’s still maintains the breakfast lead, the brand also said that within 6 months of its new breakfast menu launch last year, it had matched Burger King’s awareness numbers.

“Last year was about breaking into the breakfast category,” said Brett Craig, executive creative director at Deutsch LA. “This year is about distinguishing ourselves from the sea of sameness.”

Taco Bell is also compiling “Influencer kits” for a select group of fans, consisting of t-shirts, bandanas and posters relating to the campaign. The brand is relying on these fans to further spread the word about the campaign.

“Taco Bell has an enviable position, where they don’t have to rely on outside influencers for their campaigns,” Tom Pettus, evp and group creative director at Deutsch LA, said. “All the background social engagements that the brand does, sets the stage for these campaigns.”


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