September 17, 2021

USA: Rapper Lil Nas X Appointed Chief Impact Officer Of Taco Bell As More Brands Embrace Uninhibited Stars That Openly Worship Satan. A Marketing Professor Said, "It’s Controversial Magic."

NBC News
written by Haley Messenger
Tuesday August 24, 2021

Grammy Award-winning musician Lil Nas X is taking Crunchwrap Supremes to the “Old Town Road” after being named Taco Bell’s first chief impact officer, in the latest example of brands partnering with candid and uninhibited voices.

The fast-food chain’s collaboration with the Georgia native kicks off with a campaign tied to its breakfast menu, which is set to return to most restaurants within the next month. The partnership will also focus on Lil Nas X’s upcoming debut album, "Montero," and new menu items.

It’s a big promotion from a role the rapper held nearly five years ago as an employee at a Taco Bell in the Atlanta area. In a tweet Monday, he acknowledged that “life has come full circle, i officially work at taco bell again.” Earlier this year, he even featured the fast-food chain in the music video for his song “Sun Goes Down,” as a paid tribute.

"Lil Nas X knows the job, the experience and the culture Taco Bell creates for its fans — including its people," Taco Bell CEO Mark King said.

Taco Bell's move follows a series of partnerships between McDonald’s and musicians such as the hip-hop artist Saweetie, which includes a merchandise line and a chicken nugget meal that features "Saweetie 'N Sour sauces." Saweetie also changed her name on Twitter to “Big Mac Mama.” The burger joint launched similar campaigns with the rapper Travis Scott and the K-pop group BTS within the last year.

Earlier this year, Lil Nas X faced criticism for releasing “Satan Shoes” with the Brooklyn-based company MSCHF and a music video in which he can be seen giving the devil a lap dance. In December, Chipotle named a burrito after the singer Miley Cyrus, who has faced her fair share of criticism during the last decade. In March, Prince Harry — who faced backlash after "stepping back" from his role as a senior member of the British royal family — was named chief impact officer of the personal and professional wellness coaching company BetterUp.

The more edgy partnerships are a far stretch from ones created during the era of network television and so-called safe advertising, when companies would avoid aligning with any politically outspoken or controversial public figures.

Consumers are seeking out authenticity, driving brands to pair up with names who are honest and uninhibited, said Americus Reed II, professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. Lil Nas X is open about his music and sexuality with the 9.3 million people who follow him on Instagram and the 19.6 million who do so on TikTok.

“You can't be in a corporate boardroom and think you're going to talk to a group of young consumers who may be into urban culture and you know nothing about urban culture,” Reed said.

In addition, the credible and authentic factors of this brand deal can be found in Lil Nas X’s history with the company, Reed said.

Lil Nas X represents "an authentic manifestation of this openness, this irreverence, this rebellion, this unpredictability that perhaps Taco Bell wants to try to capture," he said. "It’s controversial magic — but it's still magic."

“That’s the argument that’s being made. Yes, I may not be able to talk to everyone, but the people I do talk to, I will have deeper relationships with them and stronger loyalty,” he said, speaking from the perspective of the brands.
written by Lars Brandle
Monday August 23, 2021

Lil Nas X is cooking up a new partnership with Taco Bell.

The record-smashing hip-hop artist is today (Aug. 23) unveiled as chief impact officer at the fast food chain, a new relationship that will play out with a menu of activities, collaborations and a company-wide push for his forthcoming album Montero.

The 22-year-old artist (real name Montero Lamar Hill) and Taco Bell have history that pre-dates his hits.

Back in 2017, the artist was part of the Taco Bell team at an Atlanta-area outlet. Fast-forward to now, and he's riding the success of two global No. 1 hits in "Old Town Road" and "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)."

The CIO is a newly-created honorary role, one which combines food, music and philanthropy.

In the first 60 days, Lil Nas X and Taco Bell will join forces on "an exclusive experience" around the upcoming release, and the rapper will play lead on some "menu innovations."

Also, Lil Nas X will team with the Taco Bell Foundation to recognize and reward young creative individuals via the Live Mรกs Scholarship, and, from today, he’ll appear in Taco Bell's breakfast campaign, with further "fan engagement opportunities" to be announced later this fall, a statement reads.

Both parties have high hopes for the alliance.

"Lil Nas X knows the job, the experience and the culture Taco Bell creates for its fans - including its people," comments Mark King, CEO of Taco Bell, in the media release. “This unique partnership will deliver on more than just marketing, allowing us to tap into the genius of Lil Nas X to inspire our team members and align with our commitment to unlocking opportunities for young people."

The artist’s “expertise in understanding social media and youth culture alongside his skills in creating great music makes this partnership with Taco Bell exciting, brave and one of the most innovative campaigns I’ve had the pleasure of creating,” adds Jennifer Frommer, senior vp brand partnerships & commercial sync at Columbia Records.

Lil Nas X has been dishing out hits for the past two years. None come any bigger than "Old Town Road," featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, which reigned over the Billboard Hot 100 for a record 19 weeks in 2019.

He scored his second No. 1 on the chart in April, with "Montero (Call Me by Your Name)."

In June 2021, the rapper revealed his highly anticipated first full-length album would be "coming soon," though a release date has not been announced.

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