Thursday, September 18, 2014

Taco Hell, Part Four -- Is She Clean?

(Sandee Westgate, John Shirley, Woman with inappropriate midriff, Rich Siegel -photoshopped in)

(The fourth in a four part series detailing our 2001 descent into Taco Hell. At this point I should remind the reader this story happened 14 years ago and has no bearing on today's Taco Bell or their ad agency where I am frequently brought in as a freelancer. No bearing whatsoever.)

So by now, I hope I've painted a pretty vivid picture of a huge fast food account (Taco Bell) at the very end of its incredibly successful, though often bumpy, relationship with its advertising agency (Chiat/Day).

They knew they were shopping elsewhere.
We knew they were shopping elsewhere.
And despite the smiles, the overly-firm handshakes and the sugar-coated conference reports we were all simply going through the motions.

Nevertheless we were professionals.

And in the face of incredible odds actually managed to get one more spot with Gidget the chihuahua. Perhaps as a testament to Chuck Bennett and Clay Williams, the guys who put so much heart and effort into the campaign, this last Gidget spot still produces a smile.

It was written and art directed by John Payne and Gary Pascoe, two of the most talented guys to ever come through Chiat/Day.

My only contribution as Creative Director was selling it, reselling it and bringing it back to the table every time the client threatened to pull the plug.

Yesterday, I teased the conclusion of this story with the promise of Internet porn sensation, Sandee Westgate (seen above in black top).

We met her, along with hundreds of other impossibly-built aspiring models/actresses, at a casting session that can only be described as grueling. The script called for two hot women hand feeding Chalupas to one of our Road Trip guys in a sensual-but-safe-for-TV fantasy.

The women were only on screen for 4 seconds, but in the mind of my partner John Shirley and I, and every other male involved with the production, those 4 seconds were crucial.

With the wrong cast, the fantasy simply wouldn't look very authentic.

One 10 hour casting session turned into two. Two turned into three. And when we found out the production office was located near Roku Sushi, we thought why not go the extra mile and make this search as comprehensive as possible.

Because as I mentioned before, we were professionals.

Having made our thorough selections, we presented Sandee and her colleague to the Taco Bell clients.

They gave us their approval immediately. With one stipulation. They wanted both women to be completed vetted. They ran a fine upstanding organization with high morals and wanted to make sure the actors and actresses who represented Taco Bell were of the same caliber.

Thankfully, they were.

That was 14 years ago. If you were to Google Sandee Westgate, and I know that you will, you'd see she has successfully ridden this Internet thingie to success.

I don't think Taco Bell's business has changed much. I have to believe their core audience is still 14-17 year old boys. And sometimes those boys (the HFFU's for those of you in the biz) even get the Munchies. In essence, they're the same pimply faced guys that frequent Carl's Jr.

We know how Carl's successfully married the notions of horny and hungry, albeit in a very soft core manner with nothing racier than anything you might see on Skinemax.

What if Taco Bell were to take it to the next level? And make Sandee their new national spokesperson to capitalize on her digital prowess.

For one thing they'd have a much better chance of having something go viral. And furthermore, I'm willing to bet those same boys would be lining at the store waiting to get their hands on a Crunchy Gordita.

Well, at least their left hand.

Now that's Living Mas.

1 comment:

Cecil B. DeMille said...

Going viral with a porn star. I see what you did there. And cannot unsee it.

I honestly think that, as a national brand selling to essentially teenage boys, they should go for it. If moms somewhere aren't picketing a Taco Bell, the ads have failed.