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Posts Tagged ‘Taco Bell’

Taco Bell Will Be Testing New Restaurants That Serve Milkshakes Spiked With Guinness

us taco coFirst they went after McD’s with an ad filled with Ronald McDonalds. Now they’re going after Chipotle.

Taco Bell is testing out a “fast-casual” restaurant called US Taco Co. that’s meant to compete with Panera and Chipotle. (That’s the logo at right, BTW.)

According to USA Today, the target audience for this restaurant are millennials with cash to spend on more than just 99 cent tacos.

To do that, diners will have options that are more in the $10 range with ingredients like lobster and Texas brisket. They’re starting with two locations this summer — one in Huntington Beach and the other in a TBD Southern California location where they will be able to serve alcohol. That second location will have what’s being called a “Mexican Car Bomb“: a vanilla shake with Guinness beer, tequila caramel sauce and chocolate bits.

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The 5 Most Socially Engaged Restaurant Brands


Today we stumbled across the Restaurant Social Media Index, a three-year-old research tool measuring the performance of various restaurant brands on social media.

We were first drawn to this list of names with the greatest audience engagement levels; we found it particularly relevant considering the fact that most of its entries are fast food chains and salty, fatty fare is always popular on Super Bowl weekend.

So we figured we’d explore the top five on the list of 25 and find some examples of this all-important “engagement.”

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Hot On the Heels of Taco Bell’s Success, Is Olive Garden Setting Itself Up For Failure?

Olive Garden has a plan to turn around its lagging fortunes: the chain is bringing tapas to its menu in an effort to reach millennials. The OG (as I like to call it), which normally specializes in neverending meals is now betting that the exact opposite — small bites — will bring in the younger crowd and more profits. The company says its been testing the tapas in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Grand Rapids, MI and, so far, in three random places, they’ve been well-received.

The restaurant is normally the place for families and older diners. Olive Garden has run on tough times as more people opt for fast food because of the recession and competition from other chains like Applebee’s and Outback heats up. Those restaurants have been introducing low-priced menu options and alcohol-fueled parties to get the young diners in the door.

So of all things, one wonders why Olive Garden would go for small plates to remedy its problems. They say tapas make it easier for the youths to text and eat at the same time. Oh geez.

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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.

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Taco Bell Turns Tables on Tweeters with ‘Eat Your Words’ Stunt

Hey, Canadians: be careful with your spelling and grammar next time you tweet mean things about Taco Bell—your poorly worded rants might just end up on the very Doritos Taco Loco that you’re about to inhale.

Well, that’s probably not true: Taco Bell Canada’s “Eat Your Words” stunt was apparently a one-time event created by Toronto ad agency Grip Unlimited, and now we’re a little jealous because they get to do all the fun stuff. It’s still the best brand response to critics that we’ve seen all week.

The PR Police Power of Self-Awareness During a Pot Festival

Effective PR requires two critical elements: knowing your audience and the ability to accept reality. Too often brands, celebrities and companies misidentify customer sentiment and lose any opportunity to create good will by being tone deaf, arrogant, or dishonest. (Or, in the case of Lance Armstrong, all three.)

So kudos to the Seattle Police Department, which—as we reported last week—implemented a uniquely audience-specific, creative and realistic Twitter campaign in anticipation of last weekend’s very public Hempfest. The celebration came on the heels of a ruling that legalized marijuana in the state of Washington last fall.

Knowing the penchant stoners have for snack foods, the Seattle Police Department handed out 1,000 free bags of Doritos sporting stickers informing participants that they shouldn’t drive while high or give weed to minors and—oh yeah—don’t forget to have fun, either. This isn’t polished marketing Geico green lizard PR. This is true public relations outreach. Here is the message the Seattle PD conveyed: We get you. Read more

Friday Munchies: Seattle PD Gives Free PR to Frito-Lay at ‘Hempfest’

Boy oh boy, those sure do look like Scooby snacks.

Frito-Lay—or, more specifically, Dorito’s—received a bit of free viral PR this week via an unlikely source: the Seattle Police Department.

On Saturday the city will host its annual “Hempfest”, a gathering of like-minded people dedicated to making rope, oils and clothing from the world’s most naturally resistant fiber (we kid, we kid). Cops surveying the festival plan to hand out 1,000 bags of munchies in what the department is honestly calling “Operation Orange Fingers”. Said bags will each bear stickers urging attendees to visit the department’s Marijwhatnow page for more details of the 2012 laws which legalized simple possession of that one thing in Washington State.

We would mention that they’ll also arrest anyone found possessing more than the legal amount of weed or trying to drive while under the (obvious) influence, but we wouldn’t want to harsh your buzz. We’re more amused by the department’s Twitter responses:

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Taco Bell Drops Kids’ Meals from Menu

The marketing of fast food to children has been a hot topic in our increasingly health-conscious society as of late, with everyone from politicians to organizations like the Center for Science in the Public Interest weighing in on the touchy subject. It is in this environment that Taco Bell has made the decision to stop carrying kids’ meals, and is touting itself as the first national fast food chain to make this pioneering change.

While advocacy groups may be pleased with Taco Bell’s decision, it seems the chain is making this move less for moral reasons, and more for simple financial and branding ones.

The main incentive for dropping kids’ meals is that they don’t really jive with the chain’s core customers — the younger portion of the millennial demographic (i.e. bored high-schoolers and drunk college kids). In fact, kids’ meals represent a mere 0.5% of its sales, according to the company (compared to McDonald’s, where Happy Meals account for about 10% of U.S. sales).

“As we continue our journey of being a better, more relevant Taco Bell, kid’s meals and toys simply no longer make sense for us to put resources behind,” said Greg Creed, CEO of Taco Bell, in a statement. “What does make sense is concentrating on expanding choices that meet and exceed the diverse needs of consumers of all ages, without losing focus on what makes us great today.” Read more

Maker’s Mark Miracle: Best PR Disaster Ever Engineered

We all remember just a few short months ago when Maker’s Mark announced plans to water down its product to accommodate demand. It was an unmitigated public relations disaster. Diluting the bourbon was tantamount to halting production altogether. The brand had given up on its values, heritage and customers. R.I.P. Maker’s Mark, right?

Not quite. The result was a public relations bonanza. Upon hearing the breaking news in February, fans of Maker’s Mark began hording the product, rocketing sales up by 44 percent. By the time the dust had settled Marker’s Mark had very publicly reversed its decision and enjoyed the benefits of widespread, free publicity. We have to say, nice work Marker’s Mark PR team.

Whether the decision to water down Marker’s Mark was a sincere proclamation or very clever publicity stunt, well, we’ll have to leave that to industry conspiracy theorists—this all HAD to be planned, right? Conspiracy! Conspiracy! Conspiracy!

It is simply inconceivable that a brand so PR savvy, so knowledgeable of its products and customers, so in line with its own promise of quality, would consider watering down its bourbon. That would be like Taco Bell selling tacos in Doritos shells… oh, wait a minute. That would be like Budweiser putting water in its… no wait. That would be like Porsche building its exhaust system using Honda parts (no offense, Honda, I lost control of this analogy a few sentences ago and needed a way out).

Though Maker’s Mark no longer has any intention to water down its product, it should breathe a sigh of relief as this hubbub is now part of the brand’s storied history. As the saying goes, it’s better to be lucky than good. If this was an honest mistake, then Maker’s Mark was very lucky. If this was all a PR strategy, then Maker’s Mark was very good. No, they were great.

CEO Promises a ‘Better Taco Bell’ With Healthier Menu Items

Last year, in an effort to compete with more upscale fast food chains like Chipotle (and to improve its own image), Taco Bell launched its Cantina menu, created by top chef Lorena Garcia. Now, the taco joint is hoping to take a bigger bite out of the health-conscious set by overhauling some of its menu items to meet higher nutritional standards.

CEO Greg Creed told reporters on Wednesday that his company plans to offer more nutritionally sound products and commit to more transparency. As part of the revamp, the chain plans to have twenty percent of its combo meals amount to no more than one-third of the U.S.’ daily recommended calorie guidelines.

In other words, assuming that most people eat three meals a day (what, no fourthmeal?!), Taco Bell’s meal deals would each contain no more than one-third of that total calorie count (based on a 2,000 calorie diet, that’s roughly 666 calories). “We have to offer more balanced options,” he said. Dietary guidelines for fat, sodium and other ingredients will be taken into consideration as well.

Doesn’t this move go against everything Taco Bell stands for? Not necessarily.

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