Photo: Morgan Tepsic. Does that mean South Korea has Taco Bells?

I usually try to steer clear of the marketing crud, but this is too bizarre to pass up. Taco Bell, anxious to jump on this whole “indie music” bandwagon, is using the only currency it has: combinations of refried beans, cheese, rehydrated ground meat, and tortillas.

Here’s the plan: they find 100 bands, and give them $500 in Taco Bell food while they’re on tour — just in case the burritos were the one thing breaking your tour budget. (Okay, there is that whole fuel cost and lodging thing, but get some bikes and a tent and you should be fine.)

The grand prize: the kind of fame that can only come from including hot sauce packets in your marketing plan. And to think, all this time people have been chasing music press and blogs and word of mouth and such. PR helpfully tell us that they’ll get “a well-known indie rock producer” to record the single. (Wait — aren’t “indie” and “well-known producer” supposed to be mutually exclusive?) But it’s really the hot sauce packets that seal the deal:

The singles will then be promoted on and through online advertising and in-store efforts in the Spring of 2009, as the Web site address will be featured on Taco Bell’s iconic Sauce Packet, which reaches more than 208 million people in about a month.

Oddly, talking about this has only made me hungry. I know, I know — I’ll try to find a real burrito, not a Taco Bell.

If a CDM reader happens to win this, we’ll be proud to see your name in lights extra spicy.

Reader Mark notes that, as covered in Pitchfork, Girl Talk got the right idea after last year’s contest and shared their taco winnings with fans. Now that’s good publicity.

Readers: got better ideas for viral condiment marketing? (Oooh, wait, I shouldn’t say the word “viral” in the same breath as a fast food joint, should I?)

  • Last Year, Ted Leo and Enon won. The only problem, neither of them entered and Leo is a staunch Vegan.

  • jane

    The genius advertising minds at T3 in Austin, tx are behind this gem. Seriously guys, come up with something good next time.

  • Les

    It turns out that biking with music touring gear + bike touring gear is kind of unmanageable. (Alas, don't ask.)

  • "…and Leo is a staunch Vegan."

    Good thing the stuff Taco Bell uses doesn't pass for real meat. Heyoo! Zing!

  • how about Sriracha-sponsored dj battles?

  • violet

    Your post made me hungry for Taco Bell. Its cool that they're reaching out to aspiring bands too.

    I once met a guy from the Taco Bell marketing team. I asked him what was up behind their "talking" sauce packet campaign. He said, "we're trying to create a two way dialogue". It was then, I looked him straight in the eye, raised my eyebrow and skeptically said, "with a sauce packet?" He look flabbergasted.


  • Vanceg

    NICE one NewMiracle. I remember vegans I knew in school drinking McDonalds shakes claiming they had no milk in them…. like I'd trust THAT?

  • 4lefts

    i used to work for maccas. there's definitely milk in those shakes. and a shitload of fat. and sugar.

  • i need tacos!

    i need them or i will explode.

  • Darren Landrum

    The term "viral condiment marketing" is definitely one I never expected to hear in, well, pretty much my entire lifetime. It's surely a Carlin-esque sentence that has never been uttered before.

    The only thing I can think of like that is for a band's web site to get flogged on the slips of paper in fortune cookies.

  • kris

    i'd totally sign up for this if i was touring. free food on the road would be a godsend. that and i recently discovered their fresco menu that is far less poisonous than their usual fare. it reminds me of the denny's promotion where they feed a few bands for free as they tour, and they also consult bands for recipes.

    as weird as this whole "corporate restaurant getting involved in music" thing is, it's really a great thing for aspiring bands who might be in danger of going broke.

  • So it comes full circle…. In the 70's David Van Koevering used to put on shows in Taco Bell restaurants promoting the Moog Synthesizer. Taco Bell was just starting up and wanted to build its customer base and Moog obviously wanted to spread the electronic word to Taco lovers. A little bit of cross promotion obviously did them no harm.

    You can read a bit more about it in Pinch and Trocco's excellent Analog Days book. There is also some really good stuff in the Grand Royal Moog special that came out in the 90's.

    Here is a link to the Analog Days

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