Taco Bell pulled a fast one on London city folk, fooling passers-by into thinking the under-repair Big Ben clock tower rang once more atop the English House of Parliament. A controversial renovation marks the longest span of silence since the bell was installed in 1859. Since the renovation began, the bell only rings on very special occasions as opposed to every day.
So when Taco Bell organized a team to replicate the famous chime and sound it off at the base of the tower, locals were confused, to say the least. Little did they know it was all part of a Taco Bell campaign promoting the Mexican food chain’s arrival in London.
“We don’t take ourselves too seriously and have been known to play a prank or two. We hope our unique twist on Big Ben’s chimes brought surprise and humor to Londoners; this was our little arrival gift as we gratefully show up on London’s doorstep.”
Taco Bell is known for their playful marketing techniques. It was back in 2016 when they took an Ontario, Canada Taco Bell and transformed it into a one-time, one-night “SteakCation” hotel room to promote their new Steak Doubledilla. Participants entered the contest through Airbnb and one lucky winner got to sleep 4 in the fast food restaurant.
Or the 1996 April Fools prank that consisted in them publishing headlines in 7 major newspapers claiming that they had bought the Liberty Bell and renamed it the “Taco Liberty Bell.” The prank was said to have cost around $300,000 but generated more than $25 million worth in free publicity and a $1 million sales increase within the first two days that followed.
The harmless fun with consumers is effective. It generates buzz without outrage. It wakes people up and opens their eyes to a product. Sometimes you just have to think outside of the $5 Box.