I’m a native Texan who lives in Seattle. Finding authentic Tex-Mex food in the Puget Sound region is about as likely as enjoying a full week’s worth of sunny days. In June. So my family and I have come to rely on Taco Bell as a reliable substitute for Mexican comfort food – maybe not like Mom used to make, but close enough for sports, as we former journalists used to say.
That’s why the news of Taco Bell’s new branding campaign and menu items got my attention, especially with its reliance on Twitter marketing to spice up customer interest. New hashtags and social media-themed activities have helped to focus the media on the new “Live Mas'” slogan, which officially is unveiled during this weekend’s NBA All-Star Game festivities. The fast-food restaurant chain, owned by Yum! Brands, is also partnering up with former corporate cousin Frito-Lay for a March 8th introduction of the new Doritos Locos Taco, made using Doritos Nacho Cheese chips as the taco shell. And after previous failed attempts, Taco Bell is once again offering breakfast items at more than 700 U.S. locations.
That’s a major marketing effort. So those following @TacoBell (164,000-plus followers) on Twitter have been treated (tweeted?) to a stream of cheerily-delivered teases of the new menu items, early looks via YouTube of new TV commercials and lists of participating stores offering breakfast. The Taco Bell social media team, to its credit, isn’t deleting conversations (some using profanity) that started with complaints about customer service or non-working Playstation Vita codes in select restaurant offerings; these get apologetic responses and promises to fix the situation.
Taco Bell also used Twitter and a website to promote its week-long Hometown Tweet-Off contest, which ended Feb. 20th. Customers were asked to tweet using the #DoritosLocosTacos and #Contest hashtags; the most retweeted tweet wins a visit to their town from the @TacoBellTruck (14,000-plus followers). Although the website says the contest is now closed and the company is currently “calculating all the retweets,” media reports indicate the campaign did the trick by getting some trade publication and mainstream media attention and generating some retweets from various celebrities, including model Niki Taylor and “The Blind Side’s” Leigh Anne Touhy.
I’ve reached out to Tressie Lieberman, director of social and digital marketing for Taco Bell, to get more insight into how her company views Twitter for brand awareness and customer interaction, and its overall social media strategy. We’ll update if we get any response.
(I’ve also asked her about the curious case of the @TacoBellRoadTrip account. This purported to be five guys planning an East Coast tour of Taco Bell’s to rate the restaurants and send out a stream of tweets, pics and videos. The account had 16,000-plus followers, and it was using the Taco Bell logo. It actually asked the company to get in touch with them. I’m guessing it did; suddenly on Friday morning, searches for the account and a #TacoBellRoadTrip hashtag turned up nada on Twitter. Perhaps a little social media indigestion caused by not getting permission from a major brand?
What do you think of Taco Bell’s use of social media for its new campaign? Serve up your piping hot comments below and consider the following headlines you may have missed from the week:
The Eternal Question About Social Media
That is: is it right for your small business? Millenial Branding’s Dan Schawbel, writing in American Express’ Open Forum, answers that question with three others that business owners should ask themselves before starting a Facebook or Twitter strategy.
We Come To Praise Social Media Managers, Not To Bury Them
I’m guessing this New York Observer post by The Barbarian Group’s Rick Webb has already made the rounds in the social media marketing blogosphere. But I just can’t resist, especially after writing this post last year.
Oh Look: Another Pinterest Post! Read This Now Instead Of Getting Your Work Done
Actually, this well-reported item by Mashable’s Lauren Drell gets deep into Whole Foods’ strategy for this blazing-hot new social network. But I still needs those reports on my desk by end-of-day.
That’s it for this week. As always, share any thoughts/comments for us in the space below. Have a great weekend, good luck on your Academy Awards ballots, and we’ll discuss social media and the Oscars on Monday.