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    Taco Bell takes drag brunch on tour at Cantina locations

    • Taco Bell is taking a drag show on tour at its premium-positioned Cantina locations in cities around the U.S., according to a news release.
    • Each show will be hosted by drag performer Kay Sedia and feature appearances from local drag talent. Store locations will be outfitted in special visual backdrops and serve a menu with offerings like a new $5 Bell Breakfast Box, Cinnabon Delights Coffee and mimosas.
    • Reservations can be made exclusively on OpenTable for customers 18 or older, while Taco Bell rewards members in the brand’s “Fire Tier” will gain early access to bookings starting April 26. The concept came out of Live Más Pride, an LGBT employee resource group, and intends to reaffirm Taco Bell’s support for the LGBT community.

    Taco Bell is flaunting its experiential know-how with a Cantina tour centered on drag brunch. Drag shows have long been popular in queer and underground venues, but found wider appeal with the traction for boozy lunchtime gatherings beginning in the ’90s, as reported in the Eater piece “When Did Drag Brunch Get So Normie?” Popular media like the TV show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” have further familiarized consumers with drag performances.

    Brands, in turn, have started to work more drag stars into their marketing activations. Taco Bell is tying the idea to its network of Cantina stores, premium locations that feature an open restaurant design, custom menus and alcohol — the latter being a must for many brunch aficionados. Taco Bell Drag Brunch will start its run at the flagship Cantina spot in Las Vegas on May 1 before hitting Chicago (May 22), Nashville (May 29), New York City (June 12) and Fort Lauderdale (June 26).

    Taco Bell is the latest brand to dust off its experiential playbook after those tactics were put on hold earlier in the pandemic, when restrictions on in-door gatherings were tighter. The effort also caters to customers in the upper echelon of the brand’s rewards program, a key method of fostering loyalty.

    The Yum Brands chain introduced its current rewards platform in 2020, just as the pandemic put a bigger focus on mobile and digital ordering capabilities. The program has produced some success stories, like a subscription service called Taco Lover’s Pass that boosted new rewards members 20%, per internal data the company shared previously. Taco Lover’s Pass expanded nationally in January.

    Taco Bell at the same time is using the drag brunch tour to spotlight its commitments to the LGBT community. The Taco Bell Foundation, its public charity arm, has partnered with the It Gets Better Project on a grant fund dedicated to work readiness resources for LGBT youth. The collaboration with It Gets Better Project will receive a call-out at each stop on the drag brunch tour.

    The shows could effectively double as a recruitment tool for Taco Bell at a time when many restaurants are facing labor shortages. They also arrive as many LGBT consumers express concern around new legislation like a Florida law that prohibits school classroom instruction around sexual orientation, which critics have taken to calling the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Live Más Pride formed in 2020 and has over 100 members, Taco Bell said.

    “We understand the importance of creating safe spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community and are thrilled to provide a unique experience that spotlights and celebrates the wonderful artform of drag and its influence in culture with their chosen families,” Sean Tresvant, global chief brand officer at Taco Bell, said in a press statement. Tresvant joined Taco Bell in December after previously serving as CMO of Nike’s Jordan brand.

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