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HomeCase StudiesTaco Bell’s 25-year-old movie reference strikes chord with fans at San Diego Comic-Con

Taco Bell’s 25-year-old movie reference strikes chord with fans at San Diego Comic-Con

Taco Bell pop-up at San Diego Comic-Con

The futuristic utopian setting of the film Demolition Man predicted that Taco Bell would be the only restaurant chain to survive the “Franchise Wars.” Driven by this reference, Taco Bell recreated the restaurant that appears in the 1993 cult classic for the 2018 Comic-Con International in San Diego.

Setting the stage

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of Demolition Man, Taco Bell created a pop-up experience at Comic-Con, which ran July 19-22 at the San Diego Convention Center. The goal was to engage fans, garner media attention, and drive hype around the re-release of Nacho Fries.

The Demolition Man idea perfectly tied into the fake trailer advertisement Web of Fries II: Franchise Wars, which the brand released earlier this summer to reintroduce nacho fries.

“The strategy was to tie back to a strong brand social insight with our marketing campaign to garner awareness and buzz,” explained Matt Prince, senior manager of PR and brand experience at Taco Bell. “We targeted media across food, culture, lifestyle, sci-fi, and cinema.”

Taco Bell also partnered with Warner Bros. to help facilitate the authenticity of the experience and avoid any potential copyright issues. Edelman handled media relations, while Cyrano Rox managed experiential event support.

Social media rollout

The fast-food chain began teasing the event on social channels in late June.

The pop-up restaurant officially launched July 19 and ran through July 21. The event was open to the public from 6 p.m. to midnight each night.

The experience featured a free four-course meal; the opportunity to purchase merchandise that tied back to the film; a bar with specialty cocktails; and a staff of valets, waiters, and hosts all dressed to match the film. Courses included the Crunchwrap Supreme Leader and Franchise Freedom Fries.

“We had social support leading up to the activation, as well as onsite coverage for fans who weren’t in attendance to [give them] a taste of what they were missing,” Prince said.

The night after the pop-up experience ended, Taco Bell put together a highlight reel of the event and posted it to branded social channels.

Taco Bell offered those who couldn’t attend the pop-up the chance to stream Demolition Man free on FandangoNOW through the end of July.


The Taco Bell pop-up experience led to more than 900 media placements, notable among them Fox News, CNET,, The Atlantic, and

“We had over 40 outlets come to the pop-up experience, including BuzzFeed, Gizmodo, CNET, Yahoo – even a special appearance from the star of the movie, Wesley Snipes,” Prince said.

Wait times to get into the restaurant topped more than five hours during certain times over the weekend. Additionally, more than 30 media outlets claimed in coverage features that Taco Bell had the best brand activation at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.

The brand also sold more than $50,000 in merchandise on-site in just three days.

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