Yo No Quiero Taco Bell

As someone who makes his living working at a television station, I am subjected to watching more commercials than most of the population. I’m not complaining, I’d rather have the bad part of my job be “watching commercials” than having to deal with people/things like this*.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. It’s just, after the 15th time you’ve seen a Taco Bell commercial in one work day, you’re bound to go a little stir crazy.

I’m not sure how many of you have seen Taco Bell’s newest campaigns (if you have a television or know anyone that does, it’s probably hard to have missed), but I think it’s interesting to note the apparent change in their advertising strategy.

Let’s get one thing clear: Taco Bell’s food is anything but enjoyable. Maybe laughable, maybe passable, maybe irredeemable.  But very rarely, if ever, enjoyable in the true sense that food is supposed to be.

It seems to me that since the ’90s, the people behind Taco Bell were well aware of this. Well aware of what had to have been cat/dog meat in the tacos, well aware of the incredible and always reliable gastro-intestinal side effects of consumption. So, instead of putting out advertisements that flaunted these less-than-admirable traits**, they went with this:

I’m not sure if this was brought up at the time (I was 12, so pardon the ignorance of advertising trends. Ask me about Pokemon evolution, no problem), but that ad made very little sense. Yes, I get the fact that the chihuahua is a dog sometimes associated with Mexico (then again, does anyone every associate Taco Bell with Mexico? At all?) but there’s very little outside of that. Instead, it’s just the first of many attempts by Taco Bell to change the topic of discussion from e-coli and bathroom stalls to talking dogs.

Now let’s fastforward to present day and I must say, upon seeing this new wave of commercials I couldn’t recall any ads for Taco Bell over the span of about the last decade. Probably for the best, but I digress.

The new campaign, in fact the new Taco Bell, has seemingly come to terms with what they are (a gross, cheap “Mexican” fast food chain) and what people want (Chipotle, and if really desperate and/or the Chipotle has burnt down in a fire, Qdoba). Meeting somewhere in the middle, they’ve come out with a new line of menu items including tacos made of Doritos and “fresh” burritos made with “fresh” ingredients.

However, my favorite part of all this change hasn’t been the food***, but the advertising to promote it. First off is this new concept of Fourthmeal the geniuses over at the Bell have schemed up. Basically, the tagline is “Sometimes the best dinner is after the dinner“. I discovered this in the ludicrous commercial where an entire wedding party scarfs down Taco Bell in the limo after the reception, leading me to think a few things:

  1. That was either the worst wedding reception of all-time.
  2. Those people have insatiable appetites.
  3. They all bought (not rented) their tuxedos and dresses, because no one seems to care about spilling the most spillable food on planet earth.

I do appreciate the fact that the Taco Bell folks have fessed up to the idea that no one in their right mind is actually having their food for a proper meal. I’m sure someone in the creative ad room suggested “Drunkmeal” instead of or before “Fourthmeal” but the legal hurdles were probably too much to climb.

It gets even better in this commercial, where we learn that a small town in Alaska was duped into thinking they had a Taco Bell coming to their town (I’m not sure what’s more pathetic, that as a town they were collectively fooled or that they even gave a shit in the first place). When the big wigs at Taco Bell (so says the commercial) get wind of this they apparently airlifted a truck to the town to serve approximately ten thousand tacos to awaiting Alaskan mouths. Again, this made me think the following things:

  1. By the way the Taco Bell people are acting, you would think this deed of serving tacos is equivalent to flying in supplies after Hurricane Katrina or helping clean up an oil spill. Relax, we’re talking tacos here.
  2. Those shots of people smiling like buffoons either once they’ve gotten or before they’ve purchased their tacos have to be staged. No one is that excited for Taco Bell.
  3. And if those aren’t staged (like, say, the shots of people wildly running towards the truck) then the real solution is for Taco Bell to airlift that town to a Chipotle and let them experience what “Mexican” fast food should really taste like.

I wish Taco Bell the best of luck with their new “Hey, we know you’d never eat this for dinner but if it’s late enough and enough places are closed and you don’t have anything else going on and maybe if you haven’t had Doritos in a while, you’ll consider having our food” campaign. I can’t wait to see what they dream up next.

*Before I started working in the real world, I didn’t really believe that the job world was anything like it was depicted in Office Space.  And now, three years into that world, I can say that while I’ve never been hassled specifically about TPS reports, I can definitely say I’ve gained a new appreciation for that film.

**Could you imagine if they actually had a commercial where a pimply-faced kid ate Taco Bell, alone at a chain and solemnly looked up at the camera upon last bite and said, “Not only does it taste like real canine, but you won’t be able to get off the toilet for a good half hour.  Enjoy!”

***Let the record state that while I’m taking full fun in ripping apart these new menu items, I have not and likely will not try any of them so my insults are totally and completely unfounded. Read on.

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