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08/23/2021

Taco Bell names rap star head of impact

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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As a cultural icon and former Taco Bell team member, Lil Nas X has been appointed the title of ‘Chief Impact Officer,’ a newly created honorary role that will allow him to collaborate on the brand experience from the inside out.

Taco Bell is naming rapper Lil Nas X, a former store associate, to the new honorary position of chief impact officer.

In his new role, Lil Nas X will collaborate on the Taco Bell brand experience from the inside out. In his first 60 days, Lil Nas X and Taco Bell are teaming up to offer an exclusive experience around the upcoming release of his album "Montero," launching Taco Bell's newest menu innovations, and tapping into his history as a Taco Bell associate (the rapper worked in an Atlanta-area Taco Bell store in 2017).

As one of his first initiatives as Taco Bell chief impact officer, Lil Nas X will make a cameo in Taco Bell's breakfast campaign, which kicks off Monday, Aug. 23, as the brand brings its breakfast offerings back to approximately 90% of restaurants nationwide by mid-September. Taco Bell will announce continued customer engagement opportunities later this fall.

As part of his new role, Lil Nas X will also support the Taco Bell Foundation non-profit initiative and help announce awards to recipients of the Live Más scholarship. Earlier in summer 2021, Lil Nas X reflected on his youth and paid homage to his time as a Taco Bell associate with the launch of the music video for his recent single, "Sun Goes Down."

With rap replacing rock n’ roll as the predominant musical genre favored by young consumers, rap celebrities are increasingly lending their star power to retail efforts. In June 2021, Combs Enterprises, a portfolio of businesses and investments owned by rapper/entrepreneur Sean Combs (also known as “Puff Daddy” and “Diddy”) and Salesforce created Shop Circulate. Set to officially launch in fall 2021, this online marketplace is designed to provide Black-owned businesses with a global platform.

June also saw Gap team up with rapper/designer/entrepreneur Kanye West and Yeezy, his fashion company, for a new clothing line called Yeezy Gap. Under West’s direction, the Yeezy design studio will develop the line to create “modern, elevated basics for men, women and kids at accessible price points.” West will maintain sole ownership of the Yeezy brand, which according to Gap’s statement was recently valued at $2.9 billion. Yeezy will receive royalties and “potential equity” related to sales achievement.

"Lil Nas X knows the job, the experience and the culture Taco Bell creates for its fans - including its people," said Mark King, CEO of Taco Bell. "This unique partnership will deliver on more than just 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."

"Lil Nas X is one of the most important voices of this generation," said Jennifer Frommer, senior VP brand partnerships & commercial sync at Columbia Records. "His expertise in understanding social media and youth culture alongside his skills in creating great music makes this partnership with Taco Bell exciting, brave and one of the most innovative campaigns I've had the pleasure of creating."