taco bell routine republic goes up against mcdonalds

This “Routine Republic” ad campaign by Deutsch for Taco Bell is amazing. Ad types love it because they love dystopian ads reminiscent of the ad they all worship. But the Taco Bell ad actually works too. It takes the value propositions of Taco Bell’s breakfast menu against McDonalds and hits the nail on the head. It’s not subtle or hard to get.

Too bad my local Taco Bell doesn’t open until 7am and the clown dictator lets me in the door as early as 5:30a. I’ve stood outside the door at 7:05am at Taco Bell while the employees inside stared at me.

I guess the ad campaign is a waste if customers can’t get inside to buy.

I’ve said it time and time again. Operations, logistics, and customer service have a bigger impact (positive or negative) on branding and marketing than most ad campaigns do.

It is a good ad though. Reminds me of 1984.

christine is not jared

Way back in the “early oughts”, Pepsico / Tricon (now known as Yum!) employed Jason “george costanza” Alexander to make the pitch that Kentucky FRIED Chicken was diet food. It was attacked as a stupid outrageous advertising campaign and was quietly shelved.

But just because a stupid idea didn’t work doesn’t mean the same company can’t try it again a few years later.

Here in 2010, Yum! is trying to get me to go on the Taco Bell Drive-Thru Diet. The most striking thing is how the disclaimers outweigh the copy on the ads. It’s like talking to Mr. Subliminal:

  • Try the Taco Bell Drive-Thru Diet! (not a weight loss plan)
  • I lost weight! (results are not typical)
  • Fresco is a healthier choice! (not a low calorie food.)

Rule of thumb: If you have more in the disclaimer than in the ad, then maybe it’s not a great promotion idea.

Companies almost always have cricks in their necks from looking at what the competition is doing. I’m sure Yum! thought they had found their Subway Jared when they found the face of the Drive-Thru Diet, Christine, who said she lost 54 pounds by eating at Taco Bell.

But healthy is a part of the Subway brand. If a major part of your normal promotional campaigns involve trying to get people to eat another “Fourth Meal” or getting customers to add more nacho cheese, then you should stay away from the words “diet” and “healthy“.

A consistent long-term brand image that consumers can identify with (even if it’s unhealthy) is more important that a New Years resolution inspired revenue bump in Q1. Pick a strategy and go with it. You can’t have your nachos and eat them too.

welcome to the jungle

It’s bad enough when you mess up your own publicity stunt and damage your own brand. It’s worse when you drag someone else into it.

While last week’s Dr Pepper fiasco hurt the beverage maker, Axl Rose is saying it also hurt Gn’R and is pursuing legal action.

A celebrity is a brand. Some of them have better brand management than many companies. (and some much worse) Yet, it seems to be the marketing idea du jour for companies to randomly pick a celebrity brand out of the phonebook and use it in their own marketing campaign without consultation or approval from the celeb. (See also – Taco Bell vs. rapper 50 Cent.) What it is — is lazy marketing. Instead of building traction with your own attributes, it’s easier to leech onto something else to create an artificial buzz.

Leaders of both Dr Pepper and Taco Bell (who is countersuing) have said in official statements in response to lawsuits from the celebs that they can’t understand why Axl and 50 can’t just take the events in the “fun” they were intended.

What if I started using Dr Pepper’s and Taco Bell’s brand assets to market my business? A chihuahua that appeared on stage with me at speaking engagements. A book entitled the “23 Flavors of Marketing”. I wonder if they think that would be “fun” or would their lawyers attack me with a cease and desist?

Kentucky Fried Derby

The Run for the Roses will now be the Run for the Tacos.

The Kentucky Derby has announced that Yum! Brands (which owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Long John Silvers, and A&W Restaurants) will be a naming sponsor of the race. The race will now be referred to as “The Kentucky Derby, presented by Yum! Brands”.

Yum (I refuse to use the exclamation point anymore) Brands is based in Louisville which explains some of the rationale on their part…but why would the most famous horse race in the world and the oldest annual sporting event in the US want to dilute the power of their superbrand? (Between you and me, it’s probably money.)

If it were closer to April 1, I would have said it was a repeat of the April Fools’ joke about Taco Bell saying they had bought the naming rights to the Liberty Bell and they were changing the name to the Taco Liberty Bell. But this is no joke. Tradition is big for the Derby and there will be a fuss.

My prediction? I have 2.
1) Derby purists wearing gawdy hats and drinking mint juleps in Millionaire’s Row won’t like it.
2) Drunken infielders will get a Nachos Bellgrande to cure the Munchies.

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Do one thing and do it well

Do one thing and do it well.

It works great for plucky start-ups and companies old enough to know it’s the only way.

It’s the companies in the middle that start reaching for everything and abandoning the core product/service that brought them to the top.

Brand fanatics call this “brand extention”. Brand extention only works to the point that you’re still in the business you started with. Once Taco Bell puts anything on a bun (and they have in the past), it won’t work. Pizza Hut can only truly get away with things involving crust, sauce, and cheese.

Two items in the news…
Walmart is going “upscale“.
Google is putting out a new product about every two weeks.

Good idea?

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