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Taco Bell Gets Recognized for Taking Chances With Its Marketing

ICYMI: Taco Bell was chosen as Ad Age‘s “Marketer of the Year.” Congrats Taco Bell! All those Doritos Locos Tacos really paid off. Literally. Same-store sales were up eight percent in 2012, beating McDonald’s by a bunch (it had 3.3 percent same-store growth in 2012).

The company has clearly made an investment in product. Ad Age says the company took three years to come up with the Doritos Locos Tacos. (They’ve sold more than 600 million of them.) And they’ve done the new tagline thing (“Live mas.”) And while it makes me cringe to read that the company “has notably sprinkled some Spanish into the spots to convey authenticity,” it’s clear the company is doing something right to hit its target markets and expand into new ones. The two things that stand out are its willingness to change and the commitment to reaching its audience effectively.

Not only has the motto changed, but the company is trying new things with the menu (a Cantina menu, breakfast, etc) and has been dipping into different social media strategies and tactics. Best of all, when the company saw that its reputation was taking a beating, it took real steps to change that.

But secondly, Taco Bell recognized its appeal to millennials and has been playing it to the fullest. “You have to go to these other screens, because in the end, kids in college dorm rooms don’t even have TVs, they’re using laptops,” said the company’s president Brian Niccol. And more than just tweeting and maintaining a Facebook page, they turned to things like Snapchat and Vine in its efforts. So they don’t just identify the audience, they take steps to be where they are, even if it means diving into new technologies.

The company is even making modest goals to grow other groups of fans, like women who seem to be taking to the aforementioned Cantina menu.

A Doritos taco doesn’t sound like a delicious meal (maybe the Cantina? Never tried it and haven’t heard from anyone who has), but clearly the company knows it’s got something good on its hands and it’s taking calculated risks to maximize on its success. So far, many of those risks are paying off.

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