This Gay-Themed Taco Bell Ad Isn’t Real, but Taco Bell Digs It Anyway

'Leaked' spot is actually spec

Headshot of Tim Nudd

It's a sign of the times that some freelance directors can make a gay-themed spec ad for a major brand, and that brand not only doesn't go ballistic and have it taken off YouTube—it goes on the record saying it rather enjoyed it.

The Merkin Bros. filmed the spot below, which has gotten a couple hundred thousand YouTube views since mid-December. The title says it's a "leaked" ad, though of course it's clearly spec—the production values, particularly the sound, aren't on the same level as a real Taco Bell ad.

And while the gay theme seems a bit forced, the ad is likable enough.

Taco Bell liked it, anyway. "We didn't create this ad, but we can see the people who did share the same Live Mas passion for our brand—and our breakfast—as we do," the brand told Mediaite. "Although we cannot condone unauthorized use of our intellectual property, we are impressed with their work and would be open to meeting with them."

That last sentence is a bit schizophrenic, but this is obviously a win for the Merkin Bros.

"The piece was shot in one day with a minimal amount of borrowed gear. We've been shooting guerrilla style for so long, we pulled off filming in an actual Taco Bell without being noticed," Austyn Jeffs, who's part of the Merkin collective, tells AdFreak.

Of the spot's gay theme, he adds: "We don't have any lofty, grand thesis, but it sometimes feels advertising permits only a narrow lens for a country that's so wonderfully diverse. It was a fun social experiment, and we didn't quite realize it would get such a strong reaction, and we're really happy with the response. We're ready to see advertising on the whole to be a lot more inclusive—and we're such big fans of Taco Bell, thought it would be a understanding company to partner those ideals with."

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.