Taco Bell turns the moon into a billboard for its first global campaign

Dive Brief:

  • Taco Bell on May 4 will give away free tacos to mark a phase of the moon that resembles the shape of a taco, per details emailed to Marketing Dive. The “Taco Moon” effort is part of the brand’s first global campaign.
  • In the U.S., consumers can score a free Crunchy Taco from 8-11:59 p.m. in-store or all day through app and online orders. More than 20 markets will participate, including the U.K., Australia, India, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Puerto Rico, which will offer local versions of the deal, making this Taco Bell’s largest taco giveaway ever, per the company.
  • The “Taco Moon” push, created in collaboration with agency Deutsch LA, includes nine 15-second spots and elements on social and digital. It’s part of the larger “I See A Taco” campaign that is expected to run for two or three years, Taylor Montgomery, Taco Bell’s head of international marketing, told Marketing Dive.

Dive Insight:

For its first global campaign, Taco Bell tapped into something that can resonate with people anywhere: how a certain phase of the moon shares the half-circle shape of a taco. The promotion allows the brand to use the humorous, taco-obsessed tone that has come to define its previous campaigns as it tries to harness the level of brand love and fandom the chain enjoys in the U.S. and extend it around the world, per Montgomery.

“How do we make tacos famous around the world? The first step is, we have to get people to see tacos everywhere,” Montgomery said. “So we decided to turn the moon into a billboard for Taco Bell.”

While the Taco Moon deal looks to drive in-store traffic when the third-quarter moon is visible, the campaign also pushes the chain’s web and app offerings. Digital sales have helped the chain weather the worst of the pandemic, helping to drive a same-store sales lift of 9% in Q1 2021. For Taco Bell, connecting campaigns to digital channels is essential.

May 4, the day of the promotion, is  when the moon leaves the third quarter phase and enters the waning crescent phase, per The Old Farmer’s Almanac, meaning it looks like a half moon and is starting get smaller.

“It’s big ideas and getting things that [are] really, really disruptive in culture first, and then thinking, how do we make sure that we can execute this across digital channels, because that’s where our consumers are,” Montgomery said.

The brand’s larger “I See A Taco” campaign is expected to last two or three years as a platform to help consumers see the taco lookalikes that exist around the world, transcending borders and cultures, Montgomery explained. For hints at where the effort could go next, he noted that the London Eye, bridges around the world and the glasses of “Harry Potter” character Dumbledore all have the same shape.

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