Taco Bell Perfectly Spoofs Interstellar With Its Newest Faux Trailer, Starring James Marsden

As nacho fries return, so does the chain's cinematic campaign

James Marsden has to save the nacho fries from an interdimensional fate in Taco Bell's latest fake movie trailer. Taco Bell
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Taco Bell’s first foray into fake movie trailers (“Web of Fries”) was so successful, the chain quickly made a sequel (Web of Fries 2). Now, the brand is back with another trailer, Retrieval, but this time James Marsden is the star (the first iteration starred Josh Duhamel) and the spot is spoofing the sci-fi genre rather than mystery.

The point, of course, is to let fans of Taco Bell’s nacho fries know that the fries are coming back to the menu but to do so in a way that continues to build hype around their return.

“We were a long time coming in bringing nacho fries to the world,” explains Taco Bell CMO Marisa Thalberg. “People were wondering what took Taco Bell so long, and that inspired our own conspiracy theory, which was then executed in this over-the-top trailer for a fake movie (‘Web of Fries’).”

As nacho fries return to the menu, the decision to revive the cinematic-homage ad campaign was an easy one, given the success of the first two installments.

“Now, we decided to bring them back again,” she says, “and we just felt like we’ve hit this very special and somewhat uncommon situation, as we all know in marketing, where there’s almost a comparable expectation around the campaign as there is around this product.”

Agency Deutsch in Los Angeles handled the creative, which riffs on the sci-fi genre but seems to emulate Christopher Nolan’s 2014 film Interstellar most of all. There are 15-second and 30-second cuts of the trailer as well as a long-form 60-second version that will again play in theaters.

“Sometimes the best ideas come from conversations your audience is already having,” says Brett Craig, CCO of Deutsch L.A. “When you look at Twitter or any Taco Bell fan pages, everyone is asking why nacho fries keep disappearing off the menu. So, we decided to offer an explanation—albeit one that is completely absurd.”

Thalberg echoed that sentiment: “There was a strategic nugget [with this creative approach]. Customers love this product and want to know why we keep taking them away. It’s not to be challenging to our consumers. We just have such a robust menu, we’re constantly bringing in limited time offers as well as the fabulous things that are on our menu every day, that we decided instead of ignoring it to playfully address it and make it the next inspiration for ‘where did they go?’ It’s just a completely fictitious and over-the-top explanation.”

The fast-food chain doesn’t currently have plans to build out any of its faux trailers into feature films, but Thalberg doesn’t seem to have ruled it out completely.

“You know it’s a pretty rare circumstance when there’s an outcry on social media to see a full feature film,” she says. “No plans as of now—but you never know.”

Here’s a look back at the first two installments, followed by the credits for the newest spot:


Client: Taco Bell
Chief Marketing Officer – Marisa Thalberg
Senior Vice President of Advertising and Brand Engagement– Tracee Larocca
Director of Advertising – Ashley Prollamante
Manager, Advertising – Michelle Prieve
Account Executive, Brand Experience – Kristen Powell
Food Consultant – Carolyn Avelino

Agency: Deutsch
Creative Credits:
Chief Creative Officer, North America: Pete Favat
Chief Creative Officer: Brett Craig
Creative Director: Jeremiah Wassom
Creative Director: Chris Jones
Senior Art Director: Krish Karunanidhi
Senior Copywriter: Daniel Chen
Head of Production: Diego De La Maza
Executive Integrated Producer: Paul Roy
Senior Integrated Producer: Jamie Gartner
Music Director: Eryk Rich
Audio Producer: Chase Butters
Music Coordinator: Dez Davis

Account Management Credits:
Group Account Director: Matt Matzen
Account Director: Kelly Childers
Account Supervisor: Keith Corcoran
Account Executive: Lauren Krueger

Account Planning:
Head of Strategy: Kelsey Hodgkin
Strategy Director: Armando Potter

Business Affairs/Traffic:
Director of Integrated Business Affairs: Gabriela Farias
Executive Business Affairs Manager: Ken Rongey
Director or Broadcast Traffic: Carie Bonillo
Broadcast Traffic Manager: Anna Brito
Broadcast Traffic Manger: Ana Barraza

Live Action Production Company
Production Company: Superprime
Director: James Gray
Managing Director: Rebecca Skinner
Managing Director: Michelle Ross
Executive Producer: Roger Zorovich
Senior Producer: Ron Mohrhoff

Editorial Company
Production Company: Union Editorial
Editor: Matt Chesse
Assistant Editor: Dana Maddox
President/Managing Partner: Michael Raimondi
Executive Producer: Joe Ross

Post Facility
Production Company: C03
Producer: Gabriel Wakeman
Colorist: Stefan Sonnenfeld

Production Company: Framestore
Director of Production and Operations: Bethan Thomas
Sr VFX Producer: Morgan MacCuish
Creative Director: Aron Hjartarson
VFX Supervisor: Tom Leckie
Com Supervisor: Alex Villabon
CG Supervisor: Kevin Baker

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

Audio Post Company:
Production Company: Formosa Sound
Executive Producer: Lauren Cascio
Mixer: John Bolen
Sound Design: Per Hallberg
Sound Design: Phil Morrill

@KristinaMonllos kristina.monllos@adweek.com Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.