Taco Bell’s Newest Believable-But-Fake Movie Trailer Pokes Fun at Musical Biopics

It’s the fourth iteration of the genre for Nacho Fries

Darren Criss belts it out ... for Nacho Fries. Taco Bell
Headshot of Doug Zanger

Out of the vast range of products that Taco Bell promotes, the brand’s Nacho Fries have carved out a unique space … in the form of fake movie trailers. So far, three epic longer-form ads have spoofed the format: a thriller (“Web of Fries”) starring Josh Duhamel, a dystopian sequel and, more recently, a send-up of Interstellar featuring James Marsden.

Taco Bell has brought back the limited-edition product and the announcement is accompanied by another trailer, created by agency partner Deutsch, set in the music business.

“Chasing Gold” is the aspirational rise-and-fall story of a singer (Golden Globe winner Darren Criss) who gets his big break after being discovered by an agent (played by comedian Chris Diamantopoulos) who hears him singing about his deep love of Nacho Fries in an alley.

Criss’ star burns white hot, only to have it come crashing down when it’s discovered that he can’t sing about anything other than Nacho Fries. The analogy is somewhat obvious: fame, like Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries, doesn’t last forever.

It is a none-too-subtle nod to the recent crop of films and biopics like A Star Is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, and follows a predictable “price-of-fame” template.

As the trio of the brand’s previous ads for the limited-time product, the trailer is highly entertaining and very well-produced. The song itself is catchy, the overall idea makes its points without taking itself too seriously and latches on nicely to the zeitgeist in music.

According to Taco Bell’s chief global brand officer Marisa Thalberg, the concept has proven to be successful.

“We love this idea because it seems to have an enormous amount of potential and legs,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to stick to a certain type of genre and build that anticipation for consumers along with the product itself.”

Indeed, the formula appears to work well, as evidenced by the success of the previous trailers. While they have a big-budget feel and could be perceived as a gimmick of sorts, the work from the brand and Deutsch has remained smart, playful and, most importantly, accessible. Everyone is in on the joke, and it shows that the brand has a level of warmth and sense of self-awareness.

“[Our marketing] is a reflection of a level of confidence we’ve built,” said Thalberg. “It’s evolved, but we have to earn it [with consumers]. It’s also matched with a lot of humility about how challenging this business can be, and the responsibility of how we delight our fans continuously. We show up with a voice that makes sense for the brand, and that gives us the confidence to do some bold things.”

Yet, like most creative concepts, there could conceivably be a shelf life for the movie trailer parody genre. Thalberg feels good about the campaign’s durability but is also realistic (and confident) about the next great ideas should it come to that.

“We never feel locked into a concept,” she said. “We have a wide range of storytelling across our different initiatives, and we’re constantly pushing ourselves for what’s next. But if it ever feels like we’re trying too hard or it’s contrived, we’ll move on.”

In the meantime, for Nacho Fries, it’s full steam ahead with the movie trailer concept and one that could top the charts of admired work from the brand and agency.


Taco Bell
Chief Marketing Officer: Marisa Thalberg
SVP, Advertising & Brand Engagement: Tracee Larocca
Director of Advertising: Ashley Prollamante
Manager, Brand Experience: Michelle Prieve
Associate Manager, Brand Experience: Kristen Powell

Chief Creative Officer, Los Angeles: Brett Craig
Creative Director: Jeremiah Wassom
Creative Director: Chris Jones
Associate Creative Director: Mikey Sison
Senior Copywriter: Daniel Chen

Head of Production: Diego de la Maza
Executive Integrated Producer: Paul Roy
Senior Integrated Producer: Samantha Bonom
Integrated Producer: Steven Frailey
Music Director: Eryk Rich
Senior Music Supervisor: Chase Butters
Music Supervisor: Dez Davis

Digital Production
Executive Integrated Producer, Digital: Laura Tron
Senior Integrated Producer, Digital: Ariel Theraube
Associate Integrated Producer, Digital: Kemi Adeniji

Design Director: Jean-Lou Renoux
Designer: Erica Park
Junior Designer: Jeremy Gozzip

Account Management:
EVP, Group Account Director: Matt Matzen
Account Director: Kelly Childers
Account Supervisor: Katie Heinerikson
Account Executive: Eddy Perezic
Assistant Account Executive: Kristen Engasser

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

Account Planning:
EVP, Head of Strategy: Kelsey Hodgkin
VP, Group Strategy Director: Armando Potter
Strategist: Troy Gary

CEO, North America: Mike Sheldon
Chief Creative Officer, North America: Pete Favat
President, Los Angeles: Kim Getty

Live-Action: Neighborhood Watch
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
DP: Larkin Seiple
Executive Producer: Richard Peete
Executive Producer: Matthew Snetzko
Executive Producer: Traci Carlson
Line Producer: Theolonious Brooks

Food: French Butter Films
Director/DP: Brett Froomer
Executive Producer: Ivo Knezevic
First AD: Tim Harris

Production Service Company (Mexico City): The Lift
Managing Director: Avelino Rodriguez
Line Producer/LiveAction: Fuad Abed Dalton
Line Producer/Food: Jose Aguirre
Public Relations: Essiak Fernandez
Sr Bidder: Brooklyn Fecter

Editorial: Union Editorial
Editor: Jim Haygood
Assistant Editor: Brian Leong
Executive Producer: Joe Ross
President/Managing Director: Michael Raimondi

Color: Company 3
Senior Colorist: Stefan Sonnenfeld
Senior Producer: Gabriel Wakeman
Executive Producer: Ashley McKim

Post (VFX/Finishing): Chimney
Executive Producer: Ron Moon
Producer: Susie Cobb
VFX Supervisor: Frederick Ross
VFX Artist: Felix Thedeby

Audio: Lime Studios
Audio Mixer: Mark Meyuhas
Assistant Mixer: Peter Lapinski
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan

Music: Jingle Punks
CCO/Songwriter/Producer: Jared Gutstadt
Songwriter/Track Production: Jesse Siebenberg
Songwriter: Scarlett Burke
Executive Creative Director: Matt Chambless
Senior Producer: Miles Kennedy

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@zanger doug.zanger@adweek.com Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.