Taco Bell Debuts Spicy Fried Chicken Shell Chalupa at New York Speakeasy

Latest zany menu item is here

From the Doritos Locos taco to the cheese-stuffed Quesalupa, which debuted at last year's Super Bowl, Taco Bell is known for creating wacky yet often pretty delicious menu items that get its fans talking.

The fast-food chain is at it again—this time, with a chalupa shell made of fried chicken. The Naked Chicken Chalupa—available nationwide for the next five weeks and boasting a spicy fried chicken shell filled with lettuce, tomato, cheese and avocado ranch sauce—is Taco Bell's attempt to capitalize on the growing popularity of fried chicken in the QSR segment.

One TV spot for the chalupa compares it to other seemingly crazy inventions throughout history, like the car, rock 'n' roll and the internet.

At the center of its promotional campaign, developed by Deutsch L.A., is the fictional Council for Eating Fried Chicken the Same Way You Always Have.

A website and Twitter account for the "council," as well as a TV spot, are modeled after propaganda PSAs from the '50s, except instead of warning against the dangers of sex, drugs or communism, the ads promote eating traditional, safe fried chicken dinners, warning against the chalupa's "rebel shell … a delicious, golden brown nightmare … that continues to plague the nation."

Callers to a toll-free hotline, 1-844-DRUMSTK, will hear automated messages from the council. Callers can press 1 for "tips on how to recognize warning signs of naked chicken chalupa consumption" or press 4 to "learn what you can do to help combat the naked chicken chalupa menace." 

"We're trolling ourselves with this council in an amazingly distinctive style," said Marisa Thalberg, Taco Bell's CMO.

Taco Bell brought the fictional council to life this week in New York with a pop-up event, the Taco Bell Speakeasy. Fans entered the fictional council, tricked out in 1950s-era décor and fried chicken propaganda posters, and then went behind a mystical purple door to enter the speakeasy, where they could sample the chalupa and sip on specialty tequila and vodka cocktails.

"For these big launches, we want to be brilliant in the expected ways, like on TV, but also in unexpected ways, like an event that's a speakeasy, or the 800 number or Twitter feed," Thalberg said. "All of it supports the idea that this product is delicious and people are going to want to try it."

The Council for Eating Fried Chicken the Same Way You Always Have comes to life at the pop-up.


Thalberg said there's "not really a playbook" for why the brand is sitting out the Big Game this year. Taco Bell's last big product launch, the Quesalupa, took place during last year's Super Bowl. The brand slowly rolled out the cheese-filled concoction by releasing a redacted press release for its Super Bowl spot, which featured James Harden and soccer star Neymar.

"If people were expecting us to be in the Super Bowl, in a way, it's a reason for us not to be in the Super Bowl," she said. "I'm totally glad we did it last year, and I'm completely satisfied with the fact that we're not doing it this year. For us, it's not about being in the Super Bowl; it's about having a big launch." 


Client Credits:
Chief Marketing Officer: Marisa Thalberg    
Brand Creative Director: Tracee Larocca    
Manger, Advertising: Brian Darney
Associate Manager, Advertising: Kenny Heinau
Food Consultant: Carolyn Avelino
Deutsch Credits and Titles:
Creative Credits:
Chief Creative Officer, North America: Pete Favat
Executive Creative Director:  Brett Craig   
Executive Creative Director: Bob Cianfrone   
Creative Director:  Ken Slater
Creative Director: Rich Ford
Art Director: Albert Breitwieser
Copywriter: Bobby O'Neill   
Director of Integrated Production: Vic Palumbo
Executive Integrated Producer: Paul Roy  
Senior Integrated Producer: Jamie Gartner      
Music Supervisor:  Eryk Rich
Audio Producer: Chase Butters     
Account Management Credits:
Group Account Director: Walter Smith       
Account Director: Kristie Weston   
Account Supervisor: Kelly Childers    
Senior Account Executive: Chelle Toulouse   
Assistant Account Executive: Estevan Palomino  

Account Planning: 
Co-Director of Strategy:  Lindsey Allison   
Associate Strategy Director: Armando Potter 
Business Affairs/Traffic:
Director of Integrated Business Affairs:  Abilino Guillermo
Executive Business Affairs Manager: Ken Rongey    
Director or Broadcast Traffic: Carie Bonillo
Associate Broadcast Traffic Manager: Anna Brito
Associate Broadcast Traffic Manger: Ana Barraza   
CEO, North America:  Mike Sheldon
President, Los Angeles:  Kim Getty

Live Action Production Company
Production Company:  Gifted Youth
Director: Peter Atencio
Executive Producer: Dal Wolf
EP of Production: Anthony Ficalora
Producer: Stephan Mohammed

Editorial Company
Production Company:  Cut+Run
Editor: Frank Effron
Assistant Editor: Tim Sekiguchi
Executive Producer: Amburr Farls
Producer:  Jared Thomas

Post Facility
Production Company:  C03
Senior Colorist:  Dave Hussey

Production Company:  Method
Executive Producer:  Robert Owens
Producer: Stephanie Allis
Lead Flame Artist: Thomas Downs

Licensed/Composed Music, Credits and Track Info:
Motive Music

Audio Post Company:
Production Company  Lime
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan
Mixer: Mark Meyuhas
Assistant Mixer: Peter Lapinski