Taco Bell’s Mixed Message

From the Just Because We Seem To Be Obsessed With Deconstructing Ads Doesn’t Mean They Don’t Carry Potent Messages About Self and Other Department:

This latest Taco Bell ad for their new unhealthy product, the “quesarito” was so intriguing I had to view it several times. (The spot is called “Imagine.” Poor John Lennon.) It begins with a chance encounter between a seemingly non-Hispanic white woman and a Hispanic male on a park bench in Anytown, USA. He is immediately smitten with her, and the next few frames take us through their head-over-heels courtship, their marriage, her pregnancy, their happy home with two children and a large white dog, and a dance, seemingly with her mother.

The camera pulls back to the original park bench, and we see this is all just a fantasy in the Hispanic man’s head, and as he smiles at the object of devotion, she grabs the burrito out of his hand, fusing it with her quesadilla. The voiceover narration says, “Two dreams that you only thought would come together…” The Hispanic man, now in a rowboat with the woman of his dreams, opens his hands in dismay and…disappears in a benign flash of light. “A delicious, cheesy quesadilla…wrapped around a beef burrito,” says the narrator. “At participating locations. Hours may vary,” reads the scrolling text underneath a splash frame of striated artificial cheese product.

We are told that it’s the new quesarito from Taco Bell. But, somehow I can’t help reading that this quesarito narrative a parable of assimilation, in which Hispanics are “appropriated out” of a significant role in their adopted country in a puff of fast food smoke. Mejorando la raza, yo.

Is this what corporate America’s plan is for Latinos once certain colorphobic sectors get past the two minutes of hate currently directed at Mexican and Central American undocumented immigrants by hopped-up super PACs? Engage in a nominal and largely symbolic cultural mixing before being summarily disappeared in the middle of a mass media pond?

Not to worry, I guess. Inbound marketing gurus insist that 86% of us are skipping TV commercials, so we’re not really paying attention, anyway.




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