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Advertising Mascots

Taco Bell DogTaco Bell Dog - Spanish-speaking Chihuahua seen in a series of popular commercial spots created by th Los Angeles-based TBWA Chiat/Day ad agency in the summer of 1997. Played by Gidget the Dog, (a female) the male Taco Bell dog wanders busy streets, climbs fire escapes, and enters people apartments to beg for Taco Bell food products. His catchphrase is "Yo Quiero Taco Bell" (translated "I want Taco Bell").

The Taco Bell dog's mission was the never-ending quest for ultimate satisfaction, namely Taco Bell products. Its character was to be perceived as a girl-crazed 19-year-old guy in a dogs body who primarily thinks about the taste of Taco Bell food.

In one ad spot, our canine spokes-animal presses the VCR rewind button on his remote to watch a special 99-cent Mexican Pizza offer. After several rewinds, he says "I think I'm in love." In another popular spot, he cries, "Woo, Drop the Chalupa!"

A promotional ad for the movie Godzilla (1998) featured the Taco Bell Dog who exclaims "Heeeere, Lizard, Lizard," as he tries to catch Godzilla. But after seeing the size of the monster, the dog remarks "Uh-oh, I think I need a bigger box." (an homage of the 1975 movie Jaws when Roy Scheider first sees the great white shark and says "You're gonna need a bigger boat").

Although popular with the public, in general, leaders of some Hispanic groups complained that the Taco Bell Dog and its accent (voice provided by comic Carlos Alazraqui) was demeaning.

Eventually, in July of 2000, the Taco Bell Dog campaign was dropped. But not because it wasn't popular but because, the ads failed to motivate the public to "head to the border" and buy the company's product. The campaign did  generate millions in sales for related  toys, T shirts and plush toy versions of the sassy Mexican pooch..

Gidget, the dog who played played the Taco Bell dog, was owned by Paul Calabria, the head of Studio Animal Services in Castaic, California. Her trainer was Sue Chipperton.

On the set, Gidget liked to play with a stuffed toy named "Mrs. Hedgehog." Gidget's backup dogs were Dinky and Taco. Taco, a male Chihuahua, was discovered in a Florida animal shelter.

The dog's mouth movements in the commercial were provided by Michael Killen, a computer graphic designer from North Coast Studio in Pittsburgh.

TRIVIA NOTE: On a comedy skit called "Famous Last Words" on THE TONIGHT SHOW with Jay Leno (11/2/98) the Taco Bell Dog's final words in this world were "I'm going to see what they do in the kitchen." Gidget weighed 8 pounds. So, at 8 pounds you could make 23.58 tacos, if you were so inclined.

Adam Sandler wrote a song called "I Drove Over The Taco Bell Dog," with the lyrics " I felt that smush and I said, 'Oh mama!' / My low rider crushed that little Chihuahua./ I prayed for forgiveness in a Synagogue / I ran over the Taco Bell dog."

The idea for the talking Chihuahua was originally pitched to Taco Bell by Thomas Rinks and Joseph Shields, both from the Grand Rapids-area. However, their idea was misappropriated and they eventually sued Taco Bell for damages. In June 2003, a federal jury awarded the men $30.1 million. A few months later, in September, federal  Judge Gordon J. Quista awarded the men an additional $11.8 million in interest (a total of $41.9 million in damages).


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