Beyoncé's tour announcement wasn't the only pleasant surprise for Twin Cities viewers last night during halftime in the Super Bowl. In a prime slot at the start of the break, WCCO aired a Taco Bell commercial with Minneapolis' "best looking man in comedy" Fancy Ray McCloney that was inspired by -- and doubled as -- a promotion for Minneapolis' beloved indie LP shop Treehouse Records.
"Hi, this Fancy Ray for Treehouse Records, where we pay more cash for your dusty old records!" the clip starts out. It then shows the comedian donning different outfits to trumpet the store's selection of gospel, jazz and "Viking metal" (read: Scandinavian death metal). Ray even holds up a record by one of the store's favorite acts, former Jayhawks co-leader Mark Olson.
It's not until McCloney hoists a second LP do we see that he is really shilling for a new shelled item from the fast-food chain.
"The only thing bigger than our selection is Taco Bell's new Quesalupa," he says as he hoists an album cover with the Taco Bell logo on it, and then proceeds to pull one of the cheesy new menu items out of the LP jacket.
The commercial -- which only aired locally but is part of a national campaign -- was based on an actual TV spot that Treehouse Records made with McCloney back in 2012. It's one of many low-budget but high-energy small-screen ads the veteran comic and pitchman has created over the years for small Twin Cities businesses.
"This really is a validation of all the work I've done all these years making these wacky but smart, attention-grabbing commercials," McCloney said Monday morning, answering one of many phone calls since the ad aired.
He called the backstory of the new commercial "a bit of a roller-coaster ride," since he was first approached to do it by Los Angeles ad firm Deutsch Inc. more than two months ago but only just filmed it two weeks ago. Deutsch shot similar ads with local TV figures in four other markets.
In the end, Fancy Ray said, "It was remarkably easy. I just had to show up and deliver my lines, which I was born to do" (as opposed to his own commercials, where he's also in charge of all the logistics). The commercial will now be touted online but was only scheduled to air once on TV. McCloney is holding out hope it will live on, possibly even on a national level.
"They're saying they're real excited about it, so we'll see," he said.
Taco Bell paid for the ad, and Treehouse got a location fee out of it -- in addition to the obvious exposure it will bring.
Treehouse owner Mark Trehus was quick to point out on Facebook last night, "There are plenty of Mark Olson's latest LP for anyone who wonders why I decided to feature it." He forgot to mention the nearest Taco Bell to his Lyndale Av. and 26th St. store.
Here's the commercial that aired last night along with the original 2012 posted underneath it.