Taco Bell campaign spurs Passion Pit's Hot 100 debut.
In 2012 alone, high-profile TV commercials have helped boost the chart positions of alt-rock acts like the Lumineers (Bing), Alex Clare (Internet Explorer 9), Neon Trees (Buick) and, most powerfully of all, fun. (Chevrolet). This week, Passion Pit becomes the latest act to benefit from an ad's FM radio-like power to affect sales.
A commercial for Taco Bell's Doritos Tacos Locos features the Columbia indie-pop outfit's "Take a Walk," from recent release "Gossamer". The spot garnered enough exposure during its first week of airtime to help earn the group its Hot 100 debut, as "Take a Walk" steps in at No. 99. The song recorded an 88% boost in digital sales, to 15,000 copies the week ending Sept. 2, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and also moves 16-15 on the Alternative chart.
The synch is more than just a one-off foray into indie and alternative rock for Taco Bell, however. Since creating the Feed the Beat music program in 2005, the fast-food chain has gifted hundreds of indie musicians with $500 gift cards to help fuel them on the road, sponsoring events at music festivals like South by Southwest and Lollapalooza in more recent years. But earlier this year, Taco Bell took its indie-rock support further by incorporating music from Feed the Beat bands into multiple commercials for its "Live Mas Now" campaign, featuring current tracks from groups like Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and the Gay Blades.
For Brian Niccol, chief marketing and innovation officer at Taco Bell, connecting with up-and-coming musicians goes hand in hand with the company's daily outreach to young consumers. "I'm not going to put the wrong vibe in our ad," Niccol says. "If I'm putting in music that is forward-looking, it helps us be one step ahead. We want to be a relevant part of culture-you never want to be your father's Oldsmobile. And partnering with these bands really keeps you always 20-something."
In the case of Passion Pit, a longtime member of Feed the Beat, "we're big fans," Niccol says. "And with their record out we wanted to make our fans even more aware of their music. We will continue to 'live mas' by providing more outlets for musicians to be heard."
The extra exposure should help give the band a boost as its heads into a packed fall tour that will include headlining gigs at Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl; Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club; and an appearance at Australia's Parklife Festival. The group canceled a handful of dates this summer so frontman Michael Angelakos could work on "improving my mental health," but was back on the road to play Lollapalooza in August and, just last week, Budweiser Made in America in Philadelphia.