Taco Bell's Social Spectacular

Taco Bell recently announced that it will release the next Doritos Locos Taco flavor on Aug. 22, but it will do it on social media. Nick Tran, Taco Bell's social media lead, said that like the reaction from media across the Web, the flavor will heat up consumers' tastebuds. Speculation puts the flavor at Flamas.

The latest hot taste will join nacho cheese and cool ranch flavors. Tran said combining tacos with Doritos flavors continues to spark renewed interest for the brand. Consumers who had not eaten at the restaurant for years connected with the brand through the taste of their favorite chip growing up, he said. It's about integrating product development with social media to make that connection.

While the ad agency Digitas supports digital advertising, Taco Bell's internal marketing group supports social media. "We integrate our internal agency with external brand groups," Tran said -- providing an example of combining television ads with social media, digital paid advertising and search. One plays off the other, he said.

Tran said Taco Bell's social media goal focuses on building friendships through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social sites. One brand advocate expressed his obsession for the product by skydiving for a burrito, while another got a tattoo. The videos on YouTube demonstrate the significant attachment to the brand.

Late last year, Taco Bell became the first national advertiser to use the mobile navigation app Waze, enabling consumers to see a branded map pin affixed to each search for a Taco Bell location.

Waze, the crowdsourced navigation app now owned by Google, supported Taco Bell's mobile campaign that sent special offers to consumers while in the vicinity of a restaurant. Only when a driver came to a complete stop did the Taco Bell pop-up message promote a location relative to the driver's route. A combination of social responses and location information gives Google the ability to not only process traffic speeds, but to serve local ads.

The Taco Bell brand supports parent company YUM's more than 39,000 restaurants, of which 75% are operated by franchisees and unconsolidated affiliates; 20%, by the company' and 5% by licensees, according to the company's most recent 10-Q United States Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

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