Taco Bell thinks chasing serial numbers might be “fun.”

Taco Bell will feed you for life, sort of.Is it fun to hunt for serial numbers, so that you can spend $216 a year for 46 years at Taco Bell (which is what the prize dubbed “Taco Bell Food for Life” works out to)?


Maybe it looks a little bit fun.


It’s certainly easy to mock, starting with the implied 46-year life expectancy. It also might just seem like too much work for a nation full of busy people. That same nation rejected a nationwide hunt when Burger King tried it years ago. Maybe things have changed since then. It’s only worth mentioning because IT IS A TERRIFYING TALE THAT CAUSED BURGER KING PROFITS TO DROP 40% which even if it’s ancient history is worth learning a lesson from, maybe.

Or maybe human nature is still guiding us toward the path of least resistance when it comes to sweepstakes and prizes. McDonald’s Monopoly is still probably the gold standard for slightly-involving-but-mostly-passive games. I expect there are a few lessons this Taco Bell “fun” might end up teaching us:

1. Make sure your prize is relevant—which “Taco Bell for Life” is.

2. Make sure your prize is appealing—which “Taco Bell for Life” is for their die-hard fans, but how many die-hard-and-sooner-than-necessary fans (see? it’s an easy joke; cross-reference the following lesson) really exist, who have time to search for serial numbers on dollar bills?

3. Make sure your prize or set-up doesn’t give people an opportunity to mock you. Or else be ready for it and totally at ease with it. I assume a hip brand like Taco Bell is.

4. Make sure both your window of time and your geographic locations are sufficiently controlled, so it doesn’t drag out. Taco Bell has done pretty well here: 11 days, and focussed on 11 cities. Having it mostly play out on YouTube is a decent choice for the people who have the time and drive to search for these bills, and if it goes all BK-Herb, the damage is somewhat limited (as long as it gets shared enough to get the word out, which only time will tell if that’s happening).

5. Make sure it sounds like fun. In the end, I’m dubious about this—the prize is fun/funny in that easy-to-make-jokes-about way, I suppose, but looking for serial numbers seems awfully tedious. It sounds like investigative journalism.

I’ll bet you a week’s worth of Taco Bell food (a little less than five bucks, according to their calculus) that this whole thing just quietly fades away.