Taco Bell and the Great Marketing Experiments

May 27, 2015

Taco Bell and the Great Marketing Experiments

Breakfast Phone?

Taco Bell hasn’t been afraid to take a leap of faith when it comes to their marketing efforts. It’s this fearlessness that has prompted us to put the spotlight on Taco Bell and the Great Marketing Experiments that it is known for. Take the great “Taco Liberty Bell” hoax of 1996. Don’t remember that one? On April Fools’ Day, Taco Bell took out an ad in six major newspapers (think Chicago Tribune, New York Times, USA Today) that stated:

“In an effort to help the national debt, Taco Bell is pleased to announce that we have agreed to purchase the Liberty Bell, one of our country’s most historic treasures. It will now be called the “Taco Liberty Bell” and will still be accessible to the American public for viewing. While some may find this controversial, we hope our move will prompt other corporations to take similar action to do their part to reduce the country’s debt.”*

Many an irate call was made, and Taco Bell issued a press release explaining the hoax, also donating $50,000 for the upkeep of the bell. Some saw the prank as controversial, but Taco Bell spokesman Jonathan Blum stated, “For those who didn’t get the joke and care about the bell, just think about how much more recognition we’ve given it in this one day. There’s been a terrific response among people I talked to, and some of them even said, ‘Hey, thanks for making me aware of how we need to take care of our monuments.’”

Taco Bell certainly received recognition, too. So it is of no surprise to us that Taco Bell continued its great marketing experiments in recent years. Remember when they first began marketing their new breakfast menu? It launched over a year ago already, but surely you haven’t forgotten the Breakfast Phones?

Taco Bell and the Great Marketing Experiments

Taco Bell sent out 1,000 Samsung T404G phones from HipCricket to superfans and influencers. Those who received a phone (which started March 19) had to complete various missions in the hopes of winning prizes like a Waffle Taco button-down shirt, A.M. Crunchwrap sheets with hashbrown pajamas, and, of course, free Taco Bell breakfast for a year.

Excitement exploded on social channels as fans began receiving their Breakfast Phones – just the kind of attention Taco Bell was looking for, we’re sure.

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Whether on newsprint, Instagram, Vimeo or Snapchat, Taco Bell has been killing it with great marketing experiments. Perhaps not all of their efforts are successful, but they’re willing (and able) to trial and error over and over again. Will other companies start to “live más,” thinking out of the box with their marketing? With efforts such as Taco Bell’s, they’re going to have to.


*Information from Museum of Hoaxes.com

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