Friday, March 27, 2015

Death Before McHonor: Taco Bell's New Creepy, Totalitarian-Themed Ad Campaign

Thanks to @Clarkhat (and this tweet) for an inspired yet deeply disturbing ad campaign from Yum! Brands showing a dystopian, just-pre-perestroika eastern European country run by a totalitarian (and yet vaguely familiar!) clown:

That's all to say, it depicts a dystopian world, but the whole concept also can't help but come across as some kind of meta wormhole, like a microcosm of capitalism trying to devour itself. A smaller fast-food giant is knocking a bigger goliath for creating a fantastical totalitarian communist state, wherein the greatest strain on individual freedom is uninspired food, and the most dire physical threat to would-be defectors is whatever horror befalls a person who gets hit by a confetti bomb, or jumps into a grimy ball pit. (Though, in fairness, it's always been hard not to wonder what's lurking in the bottoms of those things—they're too colorful to trust.)

In fact, the campaign's biggest problem may be that it's too well done. The visuals nicely mimic the state-sanctioned artwork of the communist era—e.g., majestic sunburst portraits, imposing statues—and morph it into a series of creative, dog-whistle attacks. In addition to the epic narrative ad, which will air as a :60 on the season finale of The Walking Dead this Sunday, there's a mock-propaganda video (which might remind some gamers of BioShock) and a series of posters espousing the principles of the breakfast dictatorship.
It really looks very like a campaign someone my own age would have assembled — especially the pull of the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop", which would have been timely in that era. I probably would have left it there but for another take that @Clarkhat linked to, one from someone whose family had to endure those exact horrors:
On the one hand, I am genuinely grateful to live in a world of such plenty, such color, diversity, and vibrancy that the grim, dark warnings of George Orwell can end up as fodder for corporate pissing contests. It suggests that the mass exterminations of the Soviet Union and Nazi Europe are now quaint artifacts of a Whig history, now long overcome. On the other hand, I have actual relatives (in-laws, to be specific) who had to hide buried in outhouse shit to escape Red Army rape squads. So fuck you, Taco Bell I guess is what I'm saying.

Twelve million human lives were fed into the slaughterhouse that was 20th century totalitarianism. Twelve million people, or at least their descendants, might still walk the earth today were it not for the horrors inflicted by the governments whose imagery Taco Bell ad execs felt comfortable deploying in ads for their diarrhea factory slop.
 Yes. This.

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