It’s Late and You’ve Got the Munchies. Lyft and Taco Bell Have an Idea.

Taco Bell has, quite literally, found a new marketing vehicle, and its name is Lyft.

The fast-food chain is beginning a venture with the ride-sharing company this week that will allow Lyft passengers to request rides that incorporate a stop at a Taco Bell drive-through between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.

The companies will test the option, which will appear as “Taco Mode” in the Lyft app, during the next two weeks around a Newport Beach, Calif., location, with plans to expand the program nationally next year.

It’s an attempt to tap into the trend of young people increasingly car-pooling through apps like Lyft and its larger rival Uber, particularly on nights out with friends. While Taco Bell offers delivery to customers and advertises the locations of its restaurants through the navigation app Waze, partnering with a ride-sharing company represents a new type of “experience innovation,” said Marisa Thalberg, Taco Bell’s chief marketing officer.

“I kind of think of this like inverse delivery — like we’re delivering you to Taco Bell,” she said in an interview. “You’re being delivered to the food as opposed to having to get in your own car and drive.”

As it stands, Lyft and Uber do not have stated policies about how drivers should handle passenger requests to swing by fast-food drive-throughs, though the question regularly pops up in online discussion forums for drivers.

“Several times I said no to food and they ask why and I explained what the last idiot did of making a mess and each time the present idiot would promise to not make a mess, spill, waste, etc. then they do it anyway!” one Uber driver wrote in an online forum.

Ms. Thalberg said her company had seen “a bunch of funny tweets” and other social media posts from hungry passengers on the topic, which got them thinking about a potential partnership with Lyft.

Taco Bell is not paying Lyft for the deal, which has been in the works for almost a year, Ms. Waters said. The companies are looking at the venture as “cocreating an experience together,” which cannot be evaluated the way one might look at traditional marketing efforts like television commercials and billboards, she said.

“Marketing today is so much about customer experience, not branding and advertising,” she said. “We’re really evaluating it from a surprise and delight for our consumer bases with a program like this and both meeting in the middle and developing it on both sides.”

Source: NY Times

Why It’s Hot

  • Uber used to be the partnership king, but perhaps their recent debacles have had brands thinking twice about their ride partnerships
  • Audience understanding  — experiences, not products — is the way to go.
  • It’s interesting to see how ride share, ride hire industry expands through partnerships and innovations to “own more of the user.”

Taco Bell Enters the Doodle War

Taco Bell shared creative for their take on the Snapchat Stories campaign (“Doodle War”) that it’s rolling out this week. To participate, brands post a photo or video to Snapchat’s Stories section so visitors on the app can check view next time they log in. The branding benefit? It doesn’t disappear within 10 seconds like traditional snaps do. Other brands entering the space = Coke, Victoria’s Secret & Karmaloop.

Read more about Snapchat stories here.

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Why it’s hot

Taco Bell remains a digital advertiser to watch. It’s a big attempt for Snapchat to lure brands into the space, with promise of more than just a fleeting picture for recipients. Innovative brands are jumping at the chance to effectively reach Gen Yers.

Taco Bell Launches Breakfast on All Fronts

Yesterday, March 27th, Taco Bell launched it’s breakfast menu. The fast food chain’s promotional strategy was deployed through TV, radio ads, in-store point-of-purchase and earned and paid social media and guerrilla tactics.

The TV spots central to the campaign are a blatant poke at McDonald’s, the biggest player in breakfast by a wide margin. Taco Bell located a bunch of actual Ronald McDonalds and got them to proclaim their love for the breakfast menu in the spots.

Over the last week, Taco Bell has sent 1,000 prepaid disposable phones to TB enthusiasts to go on “brand missions,” asking them to post photos on Instagram or tweet posts related to Taco Bell and get rewarded various breakfast-related gifts. In addition, Taco Bell bought its first Instagram Ad to support their #WakeUpLiveMas campaign pushing breakfast.

Taco Bell is also utilized Vine and Snapchat messaging for the breakfast effort, highlighting the brand’s view of these emerging platforms as more than passing fads. The quick-serve player is running Pandora ads as well, while leveraging its branded station on the digital music streaming service. Additionally, Taco Bell president Brian Niccol held a Reddit question-and-answer session on the day of launch to chat with consumers about the breakfast menu.

Why so many different tactical approaches to promotion of the new breakfast menu? Taco Bell CMO Chris Brandt states “Our target is millennials…You have to talk to them where they are. Certainly, our TV spots are very important—but we like to call it ‘the power of the and.’ So it’s not just television anymore given where consumers are engaging, in social and mobile. Therefore, those things are a big part of our campaign.”

Read more here.

TV Spot

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Why It’s Hot

Taco Bell demonstrates how there’s no “one size fits all” for marketing campaigns anymore. Different audiences engage and interact with messaging on different channels, so communications plans need to be multifaceted to be effective. Traditional media types are table stakes and brands need to be tuned into their audiences to create platform-tailored and unique strategies for success.