Taco Bell’s Black Jack Taco
This commercial pokes fun at the pretentiousness of the fashion world. The message it communicates is that we here at Taco Bell, like yourself, are not taken in by all of their false sophistication, and see fashionistas for what they really are: very good at taking something senseless, dressing it up, and thereby giving it an appearance of intelligibility and cultural legitimacy.
Taco Bell is attempting to capitalize on the average person’s dislike of such pretentiousness by giving him an amusing outlet for the resentment he all too often feels after he is suckered into trying to live up to the fashion world’s “high” standards. Inevitably, he is forced to realize that because those standards are actually arbitrary, that they exist precisely to get him to try to live up to them, and that he will never be able able to.
There’s just one problem: Taco Bell, in selling the Black Jack Taco, is doing exactly the same thing they are criticizing! In attempting to parody those who create things for not other purpose than to be envied, so as to give themselves a niche from which they can gain social and financial success, all Taco Bell has done is to inculcate in their target demographic the very same vulnerability to pretentiousness that the fashionistas exploit.
The black shell of the new Black Jack Taco has no unique qualities other than it’s color. It tastes exactly the same as the yellow shell (or the red shell of the “Volcano Taco”, for that matter), and yet the consumer is expected to purchase it because it is unique. By purchasing one, the consumer is allowed to indulge his desire to be on the cutting edge of food consumption, current with all of the latest mainstream trends (the latest one being the trend of making fun of people concerned with trends), and thereby achieve exactly the same feeling those in the fashion world recieve when they do something new and unique – even if senseless.
The demographics might be different, the level of income and particular method may be worlds apart, but what drives a person living in Manhattan’s SoHo to attempt to pass off a black eye as fashionable is exactly the same thing that drives a highschool senior living in small town America to try out the Black Jack Taco before any of his friends have.
Instead of selling a product by emphasizing it’s quality (eg: it’s nutritional value, it’s taste, or even it’s price), what a person is really doing when he orders a Black Jack Taco is paying tribute to Taco Bell’s advertisers for giving him an opportunity, even if just for the span of a television commercial, to believe that he isn’t just as responsible for the success of the fashion world as those directly involved in it are.