Taco Bell Blacks out Its Social Media

unnamed-1An almost two year work in progress is making its debut. To promote the launch of their new mobile app, Taco Bell has blacked out their website and all their social media pages to promote downloading the new app. They even aired a commercial spot to promote it. If you haven’t heard about their brilliant marketing idea, I will discuss what they did to promote the app and what the app does.

The Message in a Nut (Tortilla) Shell

unnamed-3Taco Bell’s Facebook page had only one black and white post that said: “The new way to Taco Bell isn’t on Facebook. It’s #onlyintheapp.” All their previous posts on the page vanished. After a week of promotion, the Facebook page was back to normal (this is magic in itself). Taco bell has almost 11 thousand followers on Facebook who shared this posted over 2,000 times, commented over 1,000 times and liked the post over 15,000 times. The same message and image (with the social media named changed in the photo) appeared on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram, all driving people to download the app.

The Meat and Cheese and the App

unnamed-2Taco Bell is the first fast food restaurant to offer an app that enables mobile payments and ordering in both their drive thru’s and dining rooms. The app can be used to store favorite food orders, customize food orders and find nearby locations. Once the order is customized and paid for through the app, the user can simply drive or walk up to the service counter and mention the mobile order and name to pick up the food. The app also offers the ability to quickly reorder previous orders stored by rotating the phone.

Once near the store, the app will send a notification to the user to check-in to the location. After checking in, the order queues up on the kitchen screen so the food is fresh when ready to pick up. Currently, the app is number one in the food and beverage category in Apple’s App store. It spent a little bit of time this week in the top 25 free apps. Taco Bell has stated that 75% of all their stores have already processed an order made through the app.

Taco Bell's social media blackout.
Taco Bell’s social media blackout.

The Extras

The app also allows you to buy and give gift cards or “e-gifts” to friends or family. These gift cards can be used for payment within the app. Most importantly for consumers, the app contains special offers only redeemable through the app. The app will soon have the ability to send targeted coupons to consumers, making the app even more personalized. Consumers will be offered coupons and special offers based on their likes and preferences.

Taco Bell stirred up a lot of excitement with its unique marketing campaign. Their social media blackout revealed the power of good, sharable content. More importantly, their consistency across all channels made this campaign a success. I have downloaded the app, and I can’t wait to give it a try! If anyone has tried it out I would love to hear your opinion.

If you enjoyed this post from Elizabeth, you might like some of her other blog posts.

Elizabeth Muckensturm – Communication and Media Professor

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