Sure, he's got a couple of hit singles currently on the Billboard Hot 100, but Lil Nas X is expanding into fast food. Taco Bell just named him chief impact officer, a newly-created honorary role that'll combine philanthropy, music and Mexican cuisine. Starting this week, the rapper will star in ads for the restaurant chain's newly-revived breakfast menu and spearhead "menu innovations." Taco Bell will also help promote his forthcoming album Montero, whenever he decides to bless us with it.
Lil Nas X knows the Taco Bell brand inside and out. Being appointed to a cushy executive role is a full-circle moment for the artist, who worked the register and slung chalupas at a Taco Bell in Atlanta in 2017, back when he was still in high school. "Lil Nas X knows the job, the experience and the culture Taco Bell creates for its fans — including its people," the restaurant's CEO, Mark King, said in a press release. He said the partnership is more than marketing, "allowing us to tap into the genius of Lil Nas X to inspire our team members and align with our commitment to unlocking opportunities for young people." The musician will also help the Taco Bell Foundation to identify young creatives worthy of its Live Más Scholarship.
The first Taco Bell breakfast ad starring Lil Nas X features a woman dreaming she's on a talk show with the 22-year-old. The idea is that the only reason to wake up is to get your hands on the chain's new breakfast burritos. The commercial contains an exciting Easter egg for his fans: the background music is "What I Want," an unreleased track that'll be on his album.
Fans are already lobbying Lil Nas X to use his influence to bring back some discontinued favorites, like Mexican Pizza and the Grilled Stuft Nacho. He's the latest famous face to partner with a fast food behemoth: at Dunkin Donuts, you can order "The Charli," a cold brew with whole milk and three pumps of caramel syrup, which is TikTok star Charli D’Amelio's go-to coffee order. McDonalds is currently selling The Saweetie Meal, which comes with a Big Mac, chicken nuggets, fries and a Sprite. It's served with BBQ and Sweet 'N Sour sauces, with the latter temporarily rebranded as Saweetie 'N Sour. BTS, J Balvin and Travis Scott also got their own McDonalds meals; Scott was the first celebrity to get a branded order since Michael Jordan in 1992 and reportedly earned $20 million from the deal, according to Forbes.t
We've seen a marked uptick of celebrity fast food partnerships in the last year or so, and a big reason is the pandemic, which seriously curtailed entertainers' ability to make money. "We’ve seen a lot more willingness of talent to do things that they wouldn’t necessarily have done before," Doug Shabelman, CEO of an agency that represents brands looking to hire celebrities, told AdAge. "A lot of celebrities are home, they are not doing productions of big movies and they also want to be paid, and to remain relevant."
The Taco Bell collab feels like a win-win for Lil Nas X, who's got plenty of built-in hype for the release of Montero. Marketing tacos and burritos is also a far less risky endeavor than selling Nikes that allegedly contain human blood. His trajectory from restaurant employee to global superstar is also an inspiring template for other minimum wage workers with big dreams. Making the leap isn't impossible, because Lil Nas X did it.
Now who's hungry?