Taco Bell’s Brilliance is All About Listening, Not Talking

Posted by: Brendan Shaughnessy

When we look at the industry leading brands of today, there’s a lot of talking. Just today, Diet Coke made waves on AdWeek for creating 2 million unique labels in bright, vibrant colors for all their Coke-loving consumers. Marketers continue to come up with creative ways to take over the news cycle and catch everyone’s attention. While this attention is great, the news cycle has a tendency of, well, cycling on through. Taco Bell made waves today for a different reason and it’s not for being incredibly creative or flashy. They just listened.

This morning, Taco Bell went entirely black. Their website, Facebook, Twitter, their entire online presence. Black. No, it wasn’t a hack or a hoax. Everything Taco Bell was instead Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 3.07.34 PM#OnlyInTheApp. Taco Bell decided to draw attention to its all-new, first of it’s kind mobile app that allows its customers to order and pay on their smartphones and then walk or drive-in and pick up their food.

Two words for you: game changer.

Yes, of course. This seems like the simplest idea of all time. Why not integrate millennials’ mobile love into the Taco Bell process? As obvious as it seems, brands in the fast food space really haven’t done much to make the process any faster. What’s even crazier is that this is something that brands have continuously been asked to do. The new app not only allows you to order online, it allows more customization to the menu than ever before, something we know millennials are always looking for in food choices.

With Apple Pay and Starbucks mobile payment plans making many checkout times quicker, you would assume a restaurant brand might want to associate itself with this type of project.

Leave it to Taco Bell to be the pioneer. They are, after all, one of the brands that have finally started listening to their millennial consumers. Let’s think about this: Snapchat quickly has grown into one of the most popular social media platforms among millennials, with 32.9% penetration among young adults ages 18-34. Recently, brands have not experienced a tremendous amount of success on Snapchat because they’re going about it the wrong way. Taco Bell, on the other hand, has won over millennials by using the platform as a way to gain interest, sponsoring events like the MTV Movie Awards and launching new products like the Spicy Chicken Cool Ranch Locos Taco and the Quesarito.

For Taco Bell, listening has really seemed to pay off. Just today, the brand has experienced an influx of 1.4 million new Twitter followers, just for blacking out the site and social media. So yes AdWeek, Diet Coke’s new designs are pretty cool. But the reality is, it’s been done before *cough* Absolut Vodka *cough* and next week, Coke will be looking for the next creative idea. Taco Bell, on the other hand, won’t be looking for the new idea, all they have to do is keep listening.

About Brendan Shaughnessy

Brendan Shaughnessy is an Associate Strategist at Barkley. Brendan uses his data-driven background to develop strategic insights to help brands speak authentically to modern consumers and reimagine their best possible future. Client challenges are not...See Brendan's full bio.