Taco Bell decries rivals’ celeb menu stunts in ‘Build Your Own Cravings’ mobile push

Dive Brief:

  • Taco Bell has launched its Build Your Own Cravings Box offering with a campaign calling out competitors that have offered celebrity orders as menu items, per a press release. The box promises a more personalized meal and lets consumers choose a specialty, a starter, a side and a drink for $5. It is available to Taco Bell Rewards Beta members now and will roll out to other digital customers on Feb. 11.
  • To promote the Build Your Own Cravings Box, Taco Bell will run a digital and social campaign that features actor Noah Centineo, TikTok influencer Nava Rose, K-Pop star CL, drag queen Onyx Black and pro BMX biker Brad Simms, among others. The campaign includes a new filter, hashtag and a TikTok duet with Centineo, a star of Netflix’s “To All the Boys” romantic comedies.
  • Taco Bell’s press materials call out restaurants that have offered “someone else’s favorites” as menu items, a tactic used by competitors including McDonald’s and Chipotle. This type of competitive sparring between QSR chains appears to be ramping back up after falling out of favor during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dive Insight:

Taco Bell’s campaign for its Build Your Own Cravings box promotes a more personalized approach by taking aim at competitors that have relied on celebrity tie-ups to push menu items, a tactic used by Chipotle and Dunkin’, among others. Last fall, a McDonald’s meal named after rapper Travis Scott was so popular it caused ingredient shortages; the brand later teamed with reggaeton star J Balvin in a similar move. By calling out this type of collaboration, Taco Bell is keying into the competitive sparring that was popular among QSR marketers before the pandemic caused a change in tone and tactics, but has been ramping up again as marketers seek a return to normal messaging.

While shunning celebrity orders as part of its personalization push, Taco Bell is still relying on celebrities and influencers as part of the campaign. Younger consumers don’t mind hearing from influencers, despite being wary of ads. To meet these consumers where they spend their time, Taco Bell is taking to social platforms, chiefly TikTok, to deliver the campaign via a new filter, hashtag challenge and use of TikTok’s duet feature. Influencers are a key part of TikTok’s burgeoning ad offerings.

The Build Your Own Cravings box is Taco Bell’s latest promotion that seeks to drive consumers to its mobile and digital platforms. The chain launched a Taco Bell Rewards program in July 2020. In October, Taco Bell rolled out a service on its website and app that lets customers send people tacos as gifts. Taco Bell this year will launch a new restaurant concept designed specifically for diners to order ahead through the chain’s app as it looks to meet consumer behaviors that have changed due to the pandemic.

Parent company Yum Brands today announced record digital sales of nearly $5 billion in Q4 2020, for a record of $17 billion on the year, as the company accelerated investments in digital and technology, per a press release.

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