Taco Bell’s Hilarious, Over-the-Top Nod to the Illuminati Isn’t Your Average Value Menu Campaign

The chain's CMO wants to change perceptions of the dollar menu

Additionally, Taco Bell does not currently have plans to be in the Super Bowl.
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If you buy something from Taco Bell’s dollar menu, then you’re part of the Belluminati, a “not-so-secret secret society,” according to CMO Marisa Thalberg. Two new 30-second spots from Deutsch nod to the Illuminati—a secret famed secret society with a storied history that we won’t get into here—with Taco Bell’s spin on it to elevate value messaging.

Taco Bell dug into consumer perceptions around QSR value menus and found that consumers viewed the value menu as a trade-off. “Maybe it wasn’t filling because it was really small or really basic or not really that exciting,” said Thalberg. “That’s not what they would say about Taco Bell, and we saw that as a real point of difference.”

The company took a revamped approach to value with its “Feast for a Dollar” campaign earlier this year. Now, with the new Belluminati spots, Thalberg sees the brand’s value effort as “clever, but it’s also strategic, this powerful connection between the dollar bill and Taco Bell … also, the sort of playful idea of, ‘How do you get into a secret society where enlightened people are enjoying all of this decadence?’ Well, entry is a dollar, admission is a dollar, so it’s a not-so-secret secret society.”

With this effort, which will incorporate TV and social components, Taco Bell is also touting a new product: the Stacker.

“This campaign is coming at an interesting time in the industry where you see a lot of leaders, some competitive restaurants, saying things like ‘value always seems like a race to the bottom,’ and philosophically, I think we’re taking the complete opposite approach,” said Thalberg.

Thalberg also said Taco Bell also said that it does not currently have plans to be in the Super Bowl: “It’s never going to be something that we feel compelled to do just to be in the Super Bowl. Let’s be honest, if you’re going to fund a Super Bowl effort you’re taking a big chunk of change of your plan so you have to feel really good about it. I like it being a once-in-a-while thing from us. One tool of many that we sometimes use, but it’s an expensive one.”

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