1996: “Taco Bell Buys The Liberty Bell”

To “reduce the country’s debt,” Taco Bell purchased the Liberty Bell and renamed it the “Taco Liberty Bell,” according to a full-page advertisement published in seven top U.S. newspapers on April 1, 1996.

Fast food restaurant chain Taco Bell made the April 1st joke about the Taco Liberty Bell. At the time, the Taco Bell advertising agency Bozell employed Jon Parkinson and Harvey Hoffenberg, who jointly designed the advertisement. The advertisement went on to win multiple business honours.

Before it was revealed at noon on April 1 that the tale was a hoax, thousands of individuals had called Taco Bell’s corporate offices and the National Park Service.

In response, Mike McCurry, the press secretary for the White House, stated that the federal government was also “selling the Lincoln Memorial to Ford Motor Co. and renaming it the Lincoln-Mercury Memorial.”

The hoax was seen as a successful marketing ploy. The campaign cost US$300,000 (roughly $518,000 in 2021), but it is estimated to have generated US$25,000,000 (roughly $43,200,000 in 2021) in free publicity. Additionally, for the first two days of April, sales increased by more than US$1,000,000 (roughly $1,700,000 in 2021).

The hoax or marketing ploy has likewise been ranked among the top ones over time. It is one of the “Top 10 Successful Marketing Stunts” according to Entrepreneur Magazine. On its list of the “Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time,” the Museum of Hoaxes places it at number seven.

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