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Marketing Taco Bell Yum

Taco Bell Speakeasy defies traditional fried chicken values for its Naked Chicken Chalupa

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By Lisa Lacy | n/a

January 25, 2017 | 4 min read

Change is never easy – particularly when it threatens long-standing values. Look no further than the current US political climate for countless examples – as well as to a perhaps more unlikely source: quick service chain – and Millennial favorite – Taco Bell.

Taco Bell had a Speakeasy pop-up in New York in advance of a nationwide product launch.

Taco Bell had a Speakeasy pop-up in New York in advance of a nationwide product launch.

That’s right: As Taco Bell readied its new Naked Chicken Chalupa for a national audience, it faced perhaps somewhat fictional pushback from The Council for Eating Fried Chicken The Same Way You Always Have, an organization that says it seeks to “[protect] the populace from the dangers of nontraditional fried chicken.”

And that, of course, is because the Naked Chicken Chalupa has what Taco Bell calls the “first taco shell made entirely of marinated, all-white crispy chicken.”

Comparisons to KFC’s Double Down, the sandwich in which the bun was made of fried chicken, are inevitable, but a Taco Bell rep noted the Naked Chicken Chalupa has four ounces of antibiotic-free chicken, making it a more austere vessel.

It’s a Taco Bell test kitchen innovation three years in the making and will be available nationwide on January 26.

In the meantime, the Council has a hotline -- 1-844-DRUMSTK -- and is disseminating pamphlets as part of its mission to stop fried chicken innovation and preserve its streak of upholding 241 years of traditional fried chicken values.

In fact, The Council said Taco Bell’s Naked Chicken Chalupa is a shameless display of unsanctioned and dangerous experimentation and should be avoided at all costs.

“You can’t blame The Council for being concerned with the seductive threat of the Naked Chicken Chalupa,” a Taco Bell rep said in an email. “It’s so dangerously delicious we are taking it underground.”

Taco Bell's two-day Speakeasy was teased via social.

And that’s “underground” as in a real-life speakeasy in the East Village, which was open to consumers for two days prior to the launch, offering free food and Taco Bell swag, as well as a hip Taco-Bell-themed environment the rep said the brand pulled together in 24 hours.

To gain entry, which was accessed via a refrigerator door in The Council’s New York headquarters, consumers had to call ahead for reservations. And that’s after the brand teased the pop-up on social. The rep expected to see about 500 fans a day.

It’s not only a surprise-and-delight execution, it also gives consumers a chance to actually kick the tires of this new product. And while they may not be as averse to a taco shell made of chicken as, say, The Council, it may also be a product that inspires a bit of trepidation, the rep noted.

“We feel confident that once our fans get a taste of the Naked Chicken Chalupa they are going to understand exactly why this is our next big, fun and craveable innovation, following in the footsteps of the Doritos Locos Tacos five years ago and the Quesalupa just last year,” said CMO Marisa Thalberg in a statement.

Taco Bell said The Council for Eating Fried Chicken The Same Way You Always Have is worried about its new Chalupa.
Taco Bell said its Naked Chicken Chalupa threatens traditional fried chicken values.
Taco Bell expected to see about 500 fans a day at its New York City pop-up.
The Naked Chicken Chalupa will be available January 26.
Marketing Taco Bell Yum

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