Brands

This Is the Darkest Ad Parody I’ve Ever Seen

By Joe Lazauskas July 7th, 2016

If you really like ad parodies and disturbing sci-fi, then boy do I have the YouTube video for you.

From independent content shop Portal A comes “Taco Bell: The Aftermath #CreamDream,” a legitimately disturbing parody in which a Taco Bell spokesperson eats 20 “Casablanca DreamDream Supreme” tacos while filming a commercial and then is forced to live with the consequences.

Portal A’s parody chops are well known in the advertising world. In 2013, it released “Dove Real Beauty Sketches: #Balls,” which lampooned Dove’s mega-viral advertising experiment. Last year, it went after Airbnb’s rebrand with “Is Man…Kind?” (I wrote about that one too.)

That Airbnb parody was definitely a little creepy, but this latest incarnation takes things to another level.

“In the past, our parodies have imitated the original ad with a twist, so we wanted to try something new,” Nate Houghteling, co-founder and executive producer of Portal A, told me in an email. “On this one, we were working with a director, JD Dillard, whose work tends toward the darkly comic, so we thought, if we’re going to do this, might as well go all the way.”

I have a lot of respect for Portal A, particularly since these parodies seem to be an exercise in company-wide creativity rather than some grand scheme to drum up business.

“We don’t see these videos as having a direct impact on our business or our deals. That’s not really the point,” Houghteling said. “The benefits to us are more about reminding ourselves of the limitless possibilities in the space we’re in. One day we’re working on a brand campaign and the next we’re making a Black Mirror-esque short film about the inner life of a Taco Bell spokesman? That’s insane and awesome.”

Could a brand pull this off? Could Taco Bell get a win by parodying itself in this way?

Houghteling gave a smart answer to the hypothetical: Going this far would probably be a mistake, but there’s still value in self-deprecation.”Brands showing a degree of self-awareness and humility, that’s very important,” he said. “The internet is like middle school. You have to be willing to make fun of yourself before someone else does.”

Clearly, Portal A is king of the 7th grade.

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