Vulnerable Account Index Deep Dive: Taco Bell

Taco Bell Media Sales Agency Opportunities.jpgWhen you think of Taco Bell, you probably think of college kids making late night runs to the fast food joint to pick up heaping amounts of low-cost Tex-Mex study fuel. But your mind might not automatically jump to hip strategies that tap straight into the Millennial market.

However, the brand has taken a trendier turn since Marisa Thalberg was named new CMO in early 2016 following the departure of Chris Brandt, who resigned to pursue non-taco related opportunities.

If you're a WinmoEdge subscriber you'll be accustomed to getting a daily dose of fresh prospecting intelligence in your mailbox every day. But there's a limit to how much we can cram into those emails, so we're going to do a deep dive on a brand that's not even in the top 100 of our Vulnerable Account Index -- but that doesn't make it a bad opportunity, it just means the opportunity might be a little further out or take a little more work to get to.

Taco Bell: #111 | Score: 75


Changing Channels

Taco Bell launched their new “Bigger Than Everything” campaign message starting with a Super Bowl 50 advertisement that pokes fun at cultural references such as drones, man buns, Tinder and hoverboards. Super Bowl investment shows Taco Bell’s increased interest in TV advertising, with Thalberg saying the brand will spend less on digital advertising and more on “old media,” such as TV and radio. This means media sellers who represent TV and radio targeting 18-34 year-olds, Taco Bell’s target market, should reach out to the fast food chain to get a bite of that burrito.

In addition to the old media push, the chain is focusing on content proliferation (or, to put it another way, putting out tons of content), taking ideas and content from the fans to make people fall in love with the brand. Most recently, Taco Bell worked with content studio Madison & Vine to turn ideas from social media sites such as Reddit and Twitter into a series of YouTube clips called Taco Tales. More content proliferation and out-of-the-bun advertising is reportedly on the way for the chain, creating possible creative opportunities for agencies.

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You Don't Have Taco Home But You Can't Stay Here

In 2015 Taco Bell started opening a new restaurant concept: the Taco Bell Cantina. Cantinas have a higher-end interior than a typical Taco bell and focus on providing an overall cool vibe rather than aiming for volume sales. While the menu is mostly unchanged, with only a few appetizer add-ons, the big change to the fare is that the restaurant will serve alcohol (and we’re so there, people). Customers can choose from spiked frozen drinks, domestic beer and even a local craft beer on draft. With plans to open 300 new urban restaurants across the country, expect the cantina model to account for many of them. With the growing number of cantinas, agencies should reach out to the brand with ideas on how to promote the new restaurants at the local level. Local beer brands looking to get on tap inside the restaurants should look to their PR agencies to help get their craft brews on the menus (or even look to some Taco Bell exclusive packaging and branding).

Vegas Is for Taco Lovers

One of the early locations for the cantina concept is Las Vegas, where taco lovers will soon be able to enjoy a Taco Bell wedding package (for the bargain price of $600) and get hitched in the cantina. This follows a successful Love & Tacos campaign and contest which invited couples to share a #loveandtacos hashtagged 30-second video on social media platforms. The winning couple, who beat 150 other couples, were married on June 25th, opening the chapel doors to other couples from August 7th.

Wedding industry-adjacent media sellers may want to take advantage of this new marketing play and “marry” together Taco Bell’s advertisements with wedding-related media platforms. Additionally, Nevada-based agencies and media sellers may want to reach out to Taco Bell to capitalize on the hype surrounding the opening of the new Las Vegas restaurant (and chapel)

Branding Update

At the same time as the Vegas contest, Taco Bell revealed its new logo. The chain hasn’t updated its logo since 1995 and the brand decided it needed a change to go with its new message that “one size doesn’t fit all.” The new logo follows a more minimalistic and modern look, and is simple in a way that allows it to be customized with a variety of backgrounds, patterns, and textures. Updating the font to Akzidenz-Grotesk, and optimizing the logo for multimedia branding uses, it’s not loved by everyone.

With Taco Bell getting creative around its various marketing avenues, it looks like Thalberg has really shaken things up. Agencies may want to focus on creative opportunities with innovative campaign ideas to promote Taco Bell among trendy Millennials. Media sellers may want to contact the brand about the young and fun platforms the chain may be inclined, now more than ever, to use to reach its audience.

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Written by: Tevah Sturm

Tevah works in marketing at List Partners Inc. She grew up in DC, and is currently a rising junior at Emory University.

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