In today’s episode, Melissa and Alexis take a look at Taco Bell’s 1996 claim to have purchased The Liberty Bell along with their intent to rename it to The Taco Liberty Bell. They took out an ad in several national newspapers saying they purchased the landmark to help decrease the national debt.

The ads ran April 1, 1996, and by noon that day, Taco Bell announced it was an April Fools Prank, and they’d be donating $50,000 to the National Parks Service for the upkeep of the Liberty Bell. That National Parks Service was inundated with phone calls from confused and outraged Americans. The Park Service didn’t seem to find the prank so funny since Taco Bell failed to let them in on it. Others, like Philadelphia’s Mayor, the White House Press Secretary and Tom Brokaw played along with the prank and overall it was considered a successful campaign.

The campaign cost $300,000 and generated an estimated $25 million in free publicity. More than 70 million Americans were exposed to the story which directly related to $500,000 sales increase in tacos on the first day the campaign ran and $600,000 increase the second day. This was just one of many Taco Bell stunts over the years; Alexis and Melissa discuss several more, including the many times Taco Bell has given away free tacos.

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Learn more about Taco Bell on their website.

Take a look at Taco Bell’s Liberty Bell announcement.

Tom Brokaw’s Taco Liberty Bell Segment.

The Washington Post article.

The AP article.

The Wikipedia entry.

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