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How Taco Bell Took a Cue From Movie Market to Sell Nacho Fries

Taco Bell’s marketing team released a fake movie trailer starring Josh Duhamel in anticipation for its release of nacho fries.

The brand’s adoption of promotional strategies more common to other industries, like film and fashion, was a key topic of discussion between MediaLink Chairman and CEO Michael Kassan and Taco Bell Chief Brand Officer Marisa Thalberg at the Variety Massive Summit in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

“I get a lot of my inspiration for where to take this brand outside of the category,” Thalberg said during the panel, which was presented by Deloitte.

When it came to launching nacho fries, Thalberg’s team completely immersed itself in the movie-making mindset, storyboarding a thriller conspiracy around the question of why the company had never sold fries before and creating an fake IMDb page for the product.

Though Thalberg said Taco Bell usually strays from partnering with high-profile talent, she figured this particular strategy called for a movie star, which is where Duhamel came in.

“He wants to know if there’s going to be a sequel,” she joked during the discussion.

The former VP of corporate digital and marketing content worldwide at Estee Lauder cited her prior work in the luxury beauty industry as contributing to her non-traditional approaches to fast food marketing.

“I think I brought a completely different mindset to this business, both with a certain amount of vision and a certain amount of ignorance,” she said.

In a cyber-world where consumers are increasingly tech savvy, Thalberg stressed the importance of powering campaigns with authentic passion, as social media users will sniff out anything less-than-genuine.

“I think they actually have a sixth sense,” she said.

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