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The making of a “liberator” brand


Routine is good, difference is bad. Happiness is eating the same breakfast every day. Welcome the “Routine Republic”, a fictional communist state ad produced by Taco Bell to reframe McDonald’s as an oppressive breakfast regime. Has Taco Bell gone too far? And most importantly, is it going to work?
The reality is that McDonald’s is a big corporation that commands the lion’s share of breakfast fast food category at 30% US market share. McDonald’s has a reputation for serving cheap and unhealthy food. And in some areas of the country, it might be the only affordable option for a meal.
Whether any of us enjoys a good McMuffin or not, this has all the ingredients for the making of a fictional “communist country”, a state-run monopoly that provides few options and low living standard to its citizens. Therefore, people are living in a state of compliance “routine” and need to defy the establishment to change their lives.
This sounds pretty close to the oppressive states in The Hunger Games orDivergent to me. To Taco Bell’s credit, there is method to its madness. Habits are hard to break. You need to get a person out of their stable mindset in order to make them open to new information. This technique is called “Disrupt & Reframe” in advertising.
Reframing McDonald’s as a communist state is trying to achieve that. Today, McDonald’s is a cultural code for America and by extension, for freedom and individual expression, which is the antithesis of a dictatorship. This opens the door to persuade people to defy their breakfast routine, McDonald’s, to find true individual expression in another option: Taco Bell.
The challenge is that things get too weird with the oppressive clown dictator to the point that I don't feel good about the ad. As a father of a three year old, I go every weekend to McDonald’s. My kid loves the toy in the happy meal and I take comfort that the french fries are balanced by apple slices and milk. The ad almost feels like a personal criticism. People tend to align their actions with their emotions. As a result, I believe this ad is more likely to disgust than to persuade people to change their breakfast routine.

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