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MARKETING : M.C. Hammer to Rap in Praise of Taco Bell in Grammy TV Spots

Compiled by Chris Woodyard Times staff writer

When rapper M.C. Hammer showed up in Pepsi commercials, it was obvious that it was only a matter of time before he would be rhyming for Taco Bell, another PepsiCo unit.

Of course, Taco Bell shaped a major campaign last year around another rapper, Young M.C. And nowadays few stars are hotter than “The Hammer.”

Taco Bell has picked the Grammy Awards next Wednesday to hatch a one-minute television spot that is guaranteed to be seen by the Irvine-based fast-food chain’s prime audience, teen-age boys and young men.

The spot marks a departure from Taco Bell’s previous campaigns. In the past, the Mexican-food chain has used youth-oriented stars--Young M.C. or bicycle racer Greg LeMond--to highlight specific promotions. This time, there’s no promotion--just the association of M.C. Hammer strutting around a Taco Bell.

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“This spot was specifically designed to highlight the Taco Bell name,” said Tim Ryan, the company’s top marketing executive.

“Our creative objective was to produce something that was not only memorable, but also convey a feeling of industry leadership. This ad is our version of a Super Bowl halftime commercial. It will have only one network airing.”

In the spot, M.C. Hammer is seen hanging out with buddies. One suggests buying some hamburgers. Hammer, of course, gets the idea of going to Taco Bell. In a subsequent chase scene, he inflates his baggy pants and drifts to a Taco Bell.

The pants gag is a play on his costume in the hit “U Can’t Touch This” video. He is scheduled to perform the song during the ceremony.

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