Taco Bell is a chain of fast food outlets in the US. They want a slice of the lucrative breakfast market and have created a menu and minor fuss over their advertising.
As a comparatively small player Taco Bell don't have the budget to go head to head with McDonald's. So they have set about getting people talking. For their launch commercial they have recruited 25 people called Ronald McDonald to endorse how good the food is.
It's an unconventional approach in the category but it points to a new strategy that second tier and challenger brands are deploying to borrow interest from their competitors. The idea is to take another brand's idea and make it your own - but bypassing any competitive claim that might have to be substantiated, refuted or legally challenged as 'passing off'. The ploy is an obvious wink to the consumer and in the age of social media the hope is that the message will be shared. It's not very likely that many people are going to be so excited by the Taco Bell breakfast menu that they will share it with their friends on Facebook. But give them an underdog story - 'Hey, did you know there are dozens of people called Ronald McDonald and they eat at Taco Bell?…" (The implication is that Taco Bell's breakfast menu is so good that Ronald McDonald prefers it.).
The Ford/Cadillac ad is similar - though less directly competitive.
Perhaps another perspective is that brands are behaving more like individuals in their use of social media - personification is a part of the brand canon - brands are like people. So, rather than issuing a corporate cease and desist letter from the legal department McDonald's responded on Facebook with a vaguely condescending response - 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery'. The 'real' Ronald pats a ratty looking Chihuahua. (Never mind that the Taco Bell campaign featuring the dog ended over 10 years ago - though there is probably a subtext there too).
Don't wrestle with a pig. You get dirty and the pig loves it.
McDonald's are clearly not interested in engaging with Taco Bell. Doing so would stoke the fire and effectively be putting money into the underdog's marketing budget.
This blog is a notepad of contemporaneous and sometimes extemporaneous thoughts about creativity, strategy and ideas.