The company announced the hoax/purchase through six full-page advertisements (pictured right) in the The Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, and USA Today. Taco Bell announced that the Liberty Bell would spend half its time in Philadelphia and at the company’s headquarters in Irvine, California.
The ad generated numerous calls to the White House and the National Park Service about the purchase of the Liberty Bell, which was actually owned by the city of Philadelphia and not the federal government. White House press secretary Mike McCurry joked that, as part of its ongoing privatization efforts, “We’ll be doing a series of these. Ford Motor Company is joining today in an effort to refurbish the Lincoln Memorial. It will be the Lincoln Mercury Memorial.” Later that day, Taco Bell issued a press release clarifying that the whole deal was just a hoax.
Ultimately, those six ads generated millions of dollars in free publicity for Taco Bell. The company’s prank is one of the greatest corporate hoaxes in American history.