Taco Bell has appointed musical artist Lil Nas X as its "chief impact officer," an honorary position that will allow him to collaborate on the chain's development of its brand experience, per a press release.
In his first 60 days in the position, Lil Nas X will team up with Taco Bell to offer an exclusive experience surrounding the release of his upcoming album, help to launch new menu offerings and use his experience as a former Taco Bell employee to drive brand impact. The partnership begins with a breakfast campaign titled "Breakfast, In Bedtime Stories," which was also announced today, per details shared with Marketing Dive.
The creation of "chief impact officer" and the appointment of Lil Nas X sees Taco Bell following up on its cultural interests after recently announcing Cashmere as its culture agency of record.
Taco Bell's enlistment of Lil Nas X as "chief impact officer" is the QSR's latest move to more deeply integrate culture into its brand strategy. Lil Nas X has risen to stardom with chart-topping songs and a reputation for pushing boundaries, which have positioned him as one of pop culture's most visible names. Specifically, his outspoken advocacy for the LGBTQ community has won over many Gen Z fans, reflected by his large followings on social media platforms. By including him in the development of its brand experience from the inside — and amid anticipation for his upcoming album "Montero" — Taco Bell is hoping to tap into the artist's devoted fanbase and cultural status.
"Live Nas" — a play on the marketer's slogan "Live Más" — comes a few weeks after Taco Bell announced Cashmere as its culture agency of record. While the chain has long leveraged pop culture in its marketing, the increasingly complex social climate has led Taco Bell to recruit the help of agencies to navigate social nuances. The risks of failing in social messaging are high as brands contend with "cancel culture" due to claims of insensitivity or tone-deafness.
Taco Bell's new partnership also nods to Lil Nas X's history as a former employee of the chain to drive a sense of authenticity, which the artist recently showcased in a music video. As an ongoing labor shortage affects the fast food industry, more pressure has been put on employees to work longer, more intensive hours, which has resulted in strikes and claims of unfair working conditions. By bringing a former employee into the conversation of how it runs its business, Taco Bell could potentially quell any claims of neglect from its workforce.
"Lil Nas X knows the job, the experience and the culture Taco Bell creates for its fans — including its people," Mark King, Taco Bell's chief executive, said in the 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."
Through the partnership, Lil Nas X will help to deepen Taco Bell's philanthropic efforts. As part of efforts made by the Taco Bell Foundation, the artist will announce awards to recipients of the Live Más scholarships supporting younger generations' pursuits of creative passions. Lil Nas X's appointment also provides a fresh face for the chain's Feed the Beat program, which aims to feed touring musicians and is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, per the release.
News of the appointment arrives the same day as Taco Bell's breakfast campaign "Breakfast, In Bedtime Stories." To promote the QSR's announcement that it plans to bring back breakfast offerings to 90% of its restaurants by mid-September, Lil Nas X will narrate a series of storybook-style spots that tap into consumers' tendencies to start thinking about breakfast the night before. The ads, made in collaboration with Deutsch LA, will air across TV and connected TV platforms. Other features include social and digital elements, partnerships on Twitch and in-store activations.