Taco Bell's superheroes aim to do battle with the munchies

By T.L. Stanley on Mon Aug 2 2010
When your target audience is stoners, it stands to reason that you'd throw a few stoners in your ad campaign who play neon Frisbee at night—so trippy!—and come down with a massive case of the munchies. Taco Bell's launched its second animated short video giving college kids the pitch for its now-infamous "fourth meal."  (For the uninitiated, the fourth meal is the one between dinner and breakfast—9 p.m. and 4:30 a.m.—that so many of us skip. Then again, lots of us don't. And on campus? Where do you think the freshman 15 comes from?) The ad, via Draftfcb Chicago/Orange County, stars members of the Super Delicious Ingredient Force who, you just have to consider, might've been dipping into the chronic, too. It's a decent parody of superhero cartoons, though watching the whole thing may require a certain wall-eyed stare that's usually associated with being extremely high (or writing about marketing for a living). Anyway, I think I need a burrito now.

Fast-food companies are suddenly worried about your waistline

Posted on Wed Jan 6 2010

It's a new year, and that means die-hard gym rats like myself are putting up with a flood of resolutionists (resolutionistas?) who've decided it's time to lose those extra 20 pounds. (If history is any guide, they'll be out of my way within a month.) But I can't blame them for being influenced by the annual wave of advertising from weight-loss products, fitness clubs and supplements that are nudging, shaming and/or frightening them to get off the couch and check their girth. But there's an unexpected new player in this game now: fast-food chains touting "low-cal" goods. Taco Bell, home to the fourthmeal (the one between dinner and breakfast) has rolled out a Drive-Thru Diet campaign, seemingly without a trace of irony. Dunkin' Donuts is pushing egg-white breakfast sandwiches. And Starbucks is promoting "skinny" lattes. (Subway's Jared is starting to look like the surgeon general by comparison.) For those "heavy users," the loyal backbone of the fast-food industry, it could be time to rejoice. For the rest of us, it's buyer beware.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Summer's over, but the Pizza Hut/Taco Bell song is hanging on

Posted on Mon Sep 14 2009

It's already been hailed as one of the catchiest songs of the summer. Now, the over-the-top ode to a fast-food joint has cracked the highbrow world of public radio. That's right, the hypnotizing (some say maddening) ditty called "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" has become an unlikely favorite at KCRW, the Los Angeles station better known for informed political discourse, This American Life and the latest from Fleet Foxes. I would've considered it a novelty if they'd played it once, but it keeps popping up, sandwiched between alt-music darlings like Rodrigo Y Gabriela and Kitty Daisy & Lewis, giving the fast-food siblings exposure they couldn't buy. Check out this Village Voice interview, in which the Brooklyn-based rappers who call themselves Das Racist are quizzed about the sociopolitical roots of their infectious dance track. Why the love for the Pizza Hut and Taco Bell song? Half of the duo, Victor, thinks it's because "Yum! Brands combination franchises themselves are pretty ubiquitous but still absurd and almost terrifyingly prophetic." And it's got a great beat!

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Pizza Hut, Taco Bell blessed (or cursed) with Das Racist tribute

Posted on Mon Jun 29 2009

Good news, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell: You are name-checked in what Pitchfork is calling one of the songs of the summer. The bad news: It's bloody awful. Das Racist's "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" is catchy enough, and the lyrics are pretty easy to get down as well, since it's basically about one thing: two guys calling each other on their cell phones trying to link up at the setting of the title. Pitchfork gives the song an 8 out of 10, but acknowledges the pick was somewhat controversial. "Reactions within our staff have ranged from 'I'd like to punch these guys in the face' and 'This was sent here to destroy my interest in music' to 'Harold and Kumar existentialism.' " It's all a matter of taste, I suppose, and if yours runs to two guys yelling over a pedestrian dance track, then have at it. Whatever the case, it's a win-win for Pizza Hut/Taco Bell, since the song gives both chains some cred with the Gen Y demo. I can't see Das Racist rapping this way about Cracker Barrel.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

With the Benjamins long gone, Taco Bell turns to the Roosevelts

Posted on Mon Jun 29 2009

Remember those heady days when it was all about the Benjamins? Not anymore, friends. Taco Bell is here to remind us that we're not the only ones scrounging for loose change on the floors of our cars these days. Lots of people are doing it! There's even this catchy little song, "All About the Roosevelts," dedicated to the dime and the dead president who adorns it. (That would be Franklin, by the way, not Teddy.) The ad above sympathizes with our plight and tells us we can at least get a burrito with the windfall from that cushion dive. As far as messaging goes, there's so much out there right now that harps on value proposition, especially in fast food. And so many fake boy band commercials! But the Taco Bell spot, which launched in multiplexes recently in front of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, has a nice mix of tongue-in-cheek humor and slick slow-mo action. Not a bad ditty either. Why pay more, indeed?

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Taco Bell employees turn tables on drive-thru rap shenanigans

Posted on Mon Jun 1 2009

Freestyling at the fast-food drive-through has been fashionable lately, and the quick-service clerks must hate it. (Don't pull an Eminem when the person behind you is drooling for that cheeseburger.) This Taco Bell chick, however, fights back in a new spot by Draftfcb Orange County. The ad shows two teens rapping their way through a Taco Bell Grilled Chicken Burrito order: "Don't want to spend dollars, just cents every time. We want grilled chicken for only 89. ... I know I'm talking fast. Did you get all that?" The clerk raps even faster: "Here we go. Watch me flow. Eighty-nine-cent grilled chicken burrito is chicken-licious. ... Hey, you want to keep it going? Let's battle all night." (Her colleague in the back is grooving.) The guys get shamed all right, but not as bad as Rhett and Link.

—Posted by Elaine Wong

Taco Bell is finally forced to pay up for stealing the Chihuahua

Posted on Wed Jan 28 2009

Chihuahua

Let's hope Taco Bell sold a trainload of chalupas, because it's going to need the money to pay for the lawsuit it just lost.
  A federal appeals court has ruled that the taco chain must pay $42 million to Thomas Renks and Joseph Shields. The creators of the Taco Bell Chihuahua will finally see their payday, originally ordered by a court way back in 2003, after they had their idea lifted by the fast feeder.
  The campaign, which was a fixture of the '90s TV advertising landscape, had us all saying, "Yo quiero Taco Bell." Today, the executives left to pay for the sins of marketing folks who are long gone might be saying, "Dios mio!"

—Posted by Kenneth Hein


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