Case study: Taco Bell's reinvention

Chances are you’ve heard of the Doritos Locos Tacos from Taco Bell, as well as their new slogan “Live Mas.” At the recent ARF Conference in Chicago, two Taco Bell account reps from Draftfcb discussed how their team used art, science and marketing to transform Taco Bell into a relevant and popular brand once again. Here’s a brief summary of what they shared.

While Taco Bell was considered “cool” in the 1990s, brand surveys from the last decade showed Taco Bell as a cultural laggard, a brand that was quickly losing relevance amongMillennials.

It was up to Draftfcb to determine how to best reach Millennials, so they conducted a series of studies on music, words, TV shows and food. They found that Millennials don’t treat food as fuel as older generations did, but as an experience. They also confirmed that Millennials embrace America’s 21st century, multi-cultural experience. The most popular hits on the charts are typically musical collaborations that mix genres and cultures, 1/3 of new words added to our dictionary in recent years have ties back to external culture and top TV shows, where casting and plot development also mirror our multiculturalism. In terms of food, Draftfbc found that more and more popular foods were coming from different cultures. For example, rather than serving ranch dip at a party, guacamole was now the dip of choice. Their findings weren’t all that surprising but what matters more is what they did with the data.

In the 90s, Taco Bell’s marketing approach revolved around being “the jester” with the tagline “think outside the bun.” But all of these studies convinced Draftfcb that if the QSR was going to be relevant with Millennials, they would need to celebrate this change in culture and change in palates. That’s why their new approach revolves around “the explorer.”

For example, Doritos Locos were originally only available at select Taco Bell locations, so Draftfcb focused on the concept of “exploring” the U.S. to find the product in their commercials. The new slogan “Live Mas” celebrates getting out of your comfort zone, trying new foods and literally, living more.  Finally, the agency created several social campaigns that celebrate traveling and adventure.

So far, it has paid off. Taco Bell’s sales and social relevance have dramatically increased over the last few years demonstrating how data, insights and creativity can shape a brand’s marketing campaign.

Read more about this award-winning campaign here and let us know what you think in the comments!

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