Marketing By Numbers: Taco Bell, Arby's And The Summer Movie Line-Up

Something strange is in the air. Two fast-food giants are out with new promotions, both of which focus on numbers. Odd numbers, at that.

Taco Bell is promoting its 7-Layer Crunchwrap by tying it to an essay contest in which the winner will be able to propose marriage during an MLB game broadcast on Fox on July 7. The proposal will appear on virtual signage behind home plate. If I was dating a baseball-crazed man, I'd be real nervous. I can't imagine millions of people watching me at my sappiest.

Unwilling or unable (or both) to wait another 70 years, Taco Bell is calling this date, 7/7/07, the luckiest of the century.

Would-be suitors are invited to go to to enter the contest, which also gives the winner a chance to feed its mate $500 (why not $700?) worth of Taco Bell food products. Six runners-up get a year's supply of same.

Next up, Arby's. This fast-food giant is focused on fives. Why, there are five letters in its very name, it notes.

The USP here is that customers can now Pick 5 for $5.95 (why not $5.55?) by mixing and matching five of eight Arby's menu items. The company is supporting the effort in-store as well as in new "I'm Thinking Arby's" TV spots.



It's also bringing back its Orange Cream Shake, it says, beginning - oh, no - 7/7/07.

These two alone are weird, but taken together with the eeriness of the summer movie madness, it's beginning to look a strategy of sorts. Could it be?

I am one of many people with synesthesia, the ability to see colors in letters and numbers. Do you? I don't visually see the colors on the page but my mind's eye does. Eights are brownish; the letter A is red, and so on. I bet I tend toward brands that look brighter and happier (more colorful) than others. Maybe there's something to it that marketers are consciously or unconsciously inoculating their brands with.

Taco Bell's fixation on 7 leaves me feeling lilac-y. Arby's 5's put me in a sunny mood. And then there are 3s, which is what the summer movie season is all about. Threes are fairly white or yellow to me.

Centering on No. 3, there are three major films in their third iterations, "Spider-Man 3," "Shrek the Third" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," which debut within three weeks of one another.

Then there is the supporting trio of third chapters: "Ocean's Thirteen," "The Bourne Ultimatum" and "Rush Hour 3."

Other big sequels include No. 5 for "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"; No. 4 for die-hard Bruce Willis with "Live Free or Die Hard"; and Nos. 2 for the family of superhero mutants with "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" and Morgan Freeman's divine being with "Evan Almighty," a follow-up to "Bruce Almighty."

Such a colorful lineup. What might it mean, synesthesiastically?

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