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How dayparting helps Taco Bell win at mobile

Mobile plays a key role in Taco Bell’s new launch of a 15-item breakfast menu with targeted messaging that leverages dayparting.

Taco Bell’s strategy with dayparting and mobile for the launch of the breakfast menu builds on a similar time-specific promotion that the brand rolled out last year called Happier Hour. In addition to mobile media, the QSR also plans to extend a pre-launch program for breakfast that doled out feature phones to key social media influencers to keep the hype going around the new menu.

“Getting into different dayparts is obviously extremely important, and we had a lot of success last year with our Happier Hour program that we’re running again,” said Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer at Taco Bell, Irvine, CA.

“From 2-5 p.m, it’s $2 medium drinks and loaded grillers,” he said.

“Breakfast is a huge daypart — it’s actually one of the few dayparts that’s seeing a lot of growth across the QSR category in general, and we’re excited to break up people’s routines and bring some innovative products to the breakfast segment.”

Below, Mr. Brandt discusses Taco Bell’s mobile strategy around new product launches, why the brand is the first quick-service restaurant to roll out Instagram ads and how the company plans to leverage mobile payments for more than just commerce.

How are you using mobile to market Taco Bell’s new breakfast menu?
We know that mobile is an important part of everyone’s lives, certainly millennials’ lives, so we definitely want to make sure we engage people that way.

We actually gave people phones, which I think was a pretty innovative thing for Taco Bell to do. We’ve had a really successful program there where people were given missions and things to do in order to win breakfast-themed prizes and everything — it’s really helped us get the buzz out on Taco Bell.

We looked at a bunch of different influencers that have been friends of Taco Bell and media people that we have had relationships with. Some of the things we’re going to do is make challenges to actually find these in different cities around the country. We’ve given people various challenges to take pictures of themselves or draw art in terms of the waffle taco [menu item], and then we give them waffle taco pajamas and stuff like that.

It’s really something we think we can keep going and people have been very interested in, and it’s something that’s not just for the first week before launch, which is when it kicked off — it’s something that we think we can do going forward and encourage people to wake up and “Live Mas.”

What about the mobile media that supports Taco Bell breakfast?
I encourage you to check out Vine because I think our Vine spots are really unique — we leverage a lot of the “magic” trend that’s on Vine to do some pretty unique things in support of our three signature products.

We are on Instagram, and we’re the only QSR, I believe on Instagram right now. We’ve really done some neat things with the creative to make sure that it fits within the Instagram framework. I think one of the cofounders of Instagram actually reviews every ad that goes on there to make sure that they’re not just slapping up anything there, but they’re actually doing things in a clever and artistic way, so we’re really happy about that.

Our media strategy is to have the right message at the right time on the right platform. Where we can get our message across in a meaningful and relevant way — that’s what we look to.

Taco Bell’s Instagram

How do you prioritize some of the bigger social networks like Facebook and Twitter versus the smaller ones like Waze and Snapchat?
I think that is the art versus the science of what you do in marketing. Part of it is just making sure that you’re looking at unique users, and I think that you are interacting with them in a way that makes sense for the particular product.

For example, on Vine we leverage that these products are an innovative twist , so we didn’t just do a cinnamon roll, we did cinnamon delights. We didn’t do a full-platter breakfast, we just did it in a crunch wrap.

We were one of the first brands on Snapchat and were announcing the launch of a limited-time product on a platform where the picture goes away.

All of these things are part of a larger media plan that is designed to hit people at the right time, with the right message on the right platform. It’s all part of the marketing mix; I don’t think it’s “or” [because] we use the power of the “and” to hit people across various mediums.

Taco Bell’s Vine account

Taco Bell is also testing mobile payments right now with a branded app. Why get into this space now?
I think people are ready. The penetration of smartphones has gotten extremely high. That penetration probably makes this the right time. It’s a behavior that people are getting accustomed to, but it’s still on the front end.

As we look to our mobile app, we want to make sure it’s as innovative and breakthrough as the other things we do at Taco Bell, so we’re really doing a lot of testing right now to make that happen.

There are things on our mobile application that are going to be signature to us, and we want to make sure that we’re giving people a special experience and unique experience that is fitting with our brand rather than a taken-off-the-shelf solution that anyone could do.

What else would you like to see done with mobile for Taco Bell in the next six months or year?
Millennials are clock-less eaters, and people in general are on the go all the time, so a lot of people are looking for smaller meals and at different times of day. I think that makes mobile really relevant across every daypart, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, Happier Hour or late night. We want to make sure that we’re hitting people at all those types of day and being there when they need us.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York