Virginia Alber-Glanstaetten, group director of planning at Huge, has returned with her monthly column for this here site, this time discussing a certain fast-food chain that has gone from zero to hero in the shortest time. Now, who’s in the mood for a Fiery? Take it away, Virginia.
Just earlier this summer, Taco Bell faced a Public Relations nightmare when an employee posted a picture of himself licking taco shells on Facebook. The photo was part of an internal contest supposed to feature employees enjoying their first taste of a new product. While the news was everywhere at the time, it did little to slow down the Taco Bell marketing juggernaut, hailed last week as 2013’s “Marketer of the Year.” So, for anyone not already paying attention, I decided to crowdsource from my team the biggest lessons for marketers from Taco Bell’s recent success:
1. Fail fast, and move on. Taco Bell realized quickly in 2011 that dumb white guy humor wasn’t getting them what they needed. A focus on product innovation and the realization that Taco Bell was, for many, a staple part of their diet — helped them successfully Live Mas. Taco Bell did not waste a cycle on lame humor, but quickly sought new ways to position themselves as both relevant and real, leaving their past positioning behind.
2. Partner Smart. Partnerships come in many forms. Whether it’s a product, brand, or a digital technology partnership, you need to associate with brands that will add value to the customer experience. We all know that the Doritos partnership was super smart—it makes total sense—and 45 product tests later, Taco Bell was in the money with their first Doritos shell. It wasn’t just a great product innovation, it tapped into an emotional and experiential component that lives on long after you’ve finished eating: nostalgia, deeply appealing to Taco Bell’s target market. Nostalgia aside, there are a total of 126 different types of Doritos flavors around the world, which leaves Taco Bell a plethora of options and can guarantee that people will be less and less consumed with where the beef is, and more about which taco shell to choose.