Taco Bell’s latest marketing feat? A pop-up VR arcade in SoHo

Taco Bell's VR Arcade pop-up in New York kicks off a promotion giving consumers early access to PlayStation's VR headset.

For two days, New York’s SoHo neighborhood, which is perhaps best known for prohibitively expensive real estate housing exclusive boutiques from prohibitively expensive designers, will host a VR pop-up from Taco Bell.

That’s right: The QSR brand is jumping on both the VR and pop-up bandwagons with the Taco Bell VR Arcade. And it’s not just nostalgia for a bygone era that has inspired the initiative, as is the case in, say, Chicago’s Saved By the Bell pop-up. Rather, the Taco Bell VR Arcade marks the extension of Taco Bell’s relationship with Sony Interactive Entertainment as they partner to release PlayStation VR, the virtual reality headset for PS4, to Taco Bell fans prior to its release to the general public on October 13.

Taco Bell said potential winners will be notified on an average of every 15 minutes during a related month-long promotion, meaning the brand will give away over 3000 headsets.

The Taco Bell VR Arcade will be located at 79 Greene Street from Thursday, September 15 to Friday, September 16. Open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, Taco Bell said fans can demo the PlayStation VR at one of four stations, along with several launch games. And, per a rep, the pop-up will also include Taco Bell food and “taco art everywhere.”

“The space worked great for the short-term pop up,” the rep said. “It's in the heart of SoHo with good foot traffic.”

But, just in case, Taco Bell will also use geotargeted social posts and the rep said the brand is “hoping for just tons of buzz.”

"Taco Bell is a brand that lives at the intersection of food and culture, and that is why we’re particularly excited to be giving people the chance to be among the first to access the hottest tech this season with PlayStation VR," said Taco Bell CMO Marisa Thalberg in a statement.

Similarly, the rep said, “VR will be the hottest thing this season, so we're assuming interest will be across the board. A perfect cross section of our typical demographic.”

The PlayStation VR promotion marks the fourth time Taco Bell has teamed with Sony for a PlayStation-themed giveaway.

To enter, customers must look for codes in each Taco Bell Big Box combo that they can then text for a chance to win.

“We’re thrilled with the early response to PlayStation VR and can’t wait for more people to experience the future of gaming,” said Eric Lempel, senior vice president of marketing at Sony Interactive Entertainment America, in a release. “After the success of our past Taco Bell giveaways, we’re excited to partner with them to reward fans with an opportunity to win PlayStation VR before it’s available in stores on October 13.”

Taco Bell said some winners will begin receiving prize bundles on October 11. In addition to the PlayStation VR headset, the bundles will include a PlayStation Camera, two PlayStation Move motion controllers and a $40 PlayStation Store credit.

Taco Bell is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands. Taco Bell and its more than 350 franchise organizations serve over 42 million customers each week through nearly 7000 US restaurants.

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