Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sneaky Taco Bell Guy - Advertising's Implications

I am sure everyone has seen the Sneaky Taco Bell Guy commercial. He goes into Taco Bell looking to get a special deal on a 5 layer burrito. Some people seem him as creepy, some people love him; I am a part of the latter group.

The commercial is pretty entertaining on face value. With a guy who is so cheap he is looking for a special deal at Taco Bell combined with the fact that this Taco Bell happens to employ the best looking Taco Bell employee of the history of the company, there is a lot to like about this commercial. Here is the commercial for those who don't own a television:

The deeper meanings of the commercial are fascinating as well. It is one of the few commercials where we see multiple people, and they are all white. Nearly every commercial uses minorities of some sort to show diversity, but Taco Bell does not do this in their most widely used commercial. Why? Well, they really didn’t have much of a choice.

There are three characters in this commercial:
Sneaky Taco Bell Guy
First Taco Bell Employee
Denise - Taco Bell Employee with the Hookup

I’m going to use African Americans (AA) in my example as I feel it is most prevalent, although I feel that all minorities can be substituted and provide similar results.

I we make the Sneaky Taco Bell Guy an AA, the discussion turns away from the 5-Layer Burrito and turns into how cheap the AA is. They are trying to get some sort of special deal, even when going to a dirt cheap place like Taco Bell. Clearly, the AA must be unemployed, or he just wants to save his money so he can buy some booze later on. This is extremely offensive to AA everywhere, so it is really a risk that is not worth taking on Taco Bell’s part.

If we make the first female employee AA, it is a simple case of a white man not trusting an AA with his Taco Bell order. Only the white employees are smart enough to handle his amazing prowess at ordering at Taco Bell.

If Denise is black, it portrays the stereotype that AA do not value their jobs and will hook up people with special deals, hence screwing over their company. The white guy knows that no white person would lose their job over this, but an AA would most definitely give him a 5-Layer Burrito for 89 cents.

So, clearly, it would be a very bad idea to make one person AA in this commercial, but could it work with multiple? No.

If the guy and first T-Bell employee are AA, it will reinforce the stereotype of AA only wanting white women, so that probably isn’t the best message for Taco Bell to send.

If it is the guy and Denise, it is going to make it look like AA do not trust white people, or that AA will hook up each other with special deals that white people are not allowed to know about.

If both employees are AA, it portrays that only AA would work at Taco Bell. Let’s face it, Taco Bell is not a glamorous job, and it could definitely be conceived as racial stereotyping that AA are not educated and could only manage to get jobs working at Taco Bell.

If all three are AA, it makes AAs look cheap as well as Taco Bell being too cheap of a place for a white American to eat at. It also portrays the poor stereotype of the above example.

Personally, I love this commercial, but it did surprise me that there were only white people in it. As I delved deeper (and let’s face it, way too deep) into the meanings behind the commercial, I feel that the Marketing people made the necessary decision in the Sneaky Taco Bell Guy Commercial.

Yep, I have too much free time.


  1. Hahaha, great blog, didnt even think about this, but it is damn true.