Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, is known for his visionary leadership and willingness to invest the company’s earnings for long term projects.
In his never-ending quest to create a great customer experience and offer the cheapest possible prices, he completely slashed Amazon’s budget for television advertising between 2002 and 2009 (the company eventually got TV ads going again for the Kindle).
Before that, back in the dot-com era, Bezos and the Amazon team created a bunch of memorable ads, featuring old guys wearing in Mr. Rogers sweaters. But, perhaps more notorious than any of those, is the goofy 2001 Taco Bell ad that Bezos starred in to raise money for the Special Olympics.
In his book, The Everything Store, Brad Stone describes a surreal moment that happened because of the commercial. It was the day after September 11, 2001 and Bezos and a few fellow execs were driving back from Minneapolis. They had flown to Minnesota to announce a deal with Target, and all flights home were cancelled because of the terrorist attacks. On the long, sad ride back to Washington, the Amazon team stopped at Mount Rushmore. While they somberly checked out the memorial, a group of tourists recognised Bezos not as a powerful CEO, but as the guy who had just promoted Taco Bell’s new chicken quesadilla.
Check out the commercial (which starts at 6:42):
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.