Thinking Outside the Bun

If you’re like me and have Taco Bell added on your Snapchat (because why not?), you may have been confused when you saw the restaurant’s Snap story last week announcing that Taco Bell wasn’t on Snapchat anymore. The picture also included a hashtag explaining that Taco Bell was “#OnlyInTheApp.” If you thought you could turn to any of Taco Bell’s other social media platforms to get your daily taco and burrito interactions, think again. Taco Bell ‘blacked out’ all of its accounts, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Vine, as well as the official Taco Bell website.  The brand’s purpose in doing so was to attempt to drive consumers to keep up with Taco Bell by downloading its new mobile-ordering app. Taco Bell put a temporary freeze on these sites to force consumers to interact with its brand through one channel, and also to create a large buzz around the app given this unique and unconventional marketing strategy. Taco Bell’s social media and website are back up and running now, yet the blackout was successful in creating a buzz amongst consumers.

Usually when brands introduce a new offering to the public, they leverage all their social media accounts in order to promote the offer in as many ways, and to as many people as possible. However, Taco Bell took a different, yet well thought-out method of marketing its app to consumers by virtually not marketing it at all. During this time, the app was promoted indirectly through websites, articles and online magazines reporting on Taco Bell’s ‘blacking out’ of its social media sites. Nowadays, consumers are very aware of companies’ efforts to sell them on a product or service, and often get annoyed when heavily marketed to. By taking a different approach and not excessively marketing its app through as many channels as it could and overloading people with information, Taco Bell piqued consumers’ curiosity in checking out the app for themselves.  I downloaded the app after hearing about the blackout to see how the mobile-ordering worked, and will most likely order from the app in the very near future. The app introduces users by name, as well as keeps a list of frequently placed orders so that they can easily be re-ordered.  This makes the experience more personable for the user and helps to build a stronger relationship between the consumer and Taco Bell brand.  Given that Taco Bell is the first national fast-food chain to launch a mobile-ordering app, it has a leg up against the competition. Fast food restaurants already provide consumers with a very minimal wait time for orders, yet with this app Taco Bell is virtually eliminating waiting time at all. In a statement released last week, Taco Bell President Brian Niccol noted, “We [Taco Bell] believe mobile ordering and payment is the biggest innovation since the drive-thru.” According to Fox News, consumers can expect to see many other fast-food chains like McDonald’s, KFC, and Burger King will soon introduce similar mobile apps to quicken the ordering process and ring up more sales. This in turn means users will have to wait less for already speedy food service. America is truly the best.

Stephanie Khodzhayan



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