In a cultural mishmash of East meets West, a new Taco Bell online advergame challenges players, as kung fu masters, to fight off the hungry horde of luchadores, traditional masked Mexican wrestlers.
Taco Bell agency DraftFCB, with the help of advergame development studio Blockdot, Dallas, created the game called "Taco Fu."
"The somewhat weird mix of kung fu and tacos came from looking at what our target audience likes to do. They like action games and they like kung fu," said Brad Meyers, associate creative director, interactive, at DraftFCB, Irvine, Calif.
In the game, the masked wrestlers make their way across the screen in front of a Taco Bell restaurant -- or drop in from the roof -- trying to get past the karate master guarding his nacho, burrito or taco lunch. Each level gets harder, and while the good guy has a secret weapon hot-sauce fireball to throw, the bad guys chuck big black sporks (the spoon/fork combo utensil given out with Taco Bell food).
Quips like "Beaten by sporks, how embarrassing!" and "Never mess with a Taco master" stay true to Taco Bell's cultivated irreverent brand image.
And that in-game attitude seems to be working. After one week, the game had already gotten almost 1 million plays. Mr. Meyers said Taco Bell is jumping aggressively into interactive and more advergames are a definite possibility.
Taco Bell could use some fu, in fact. In its most recent quarterly report in October, parent Yum Brands, which owns the Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC chains, reported 4% worldwide growth, but that growth came mostly in strong China sales, offsetting U.S. declines. Taco Bell same-store sales fell 6% year over year for the quarter. The chain is still recovering after an E.coli outbreak sickened dozens of customers last year, followed early this year by videos of rats in a New York KFC/Taco Bell restaurant that spread quickly on viral video sites.