Failed Taco Bell Freebie: A Facebook Mystery

  • June 22, 2011
Yum! Brands' chief public affairs officer, Jonathan Blum, recently shared a Taco Bell promotion failure with Northwestern University marketing students, reports  

The good news: Taco Bell's Facebook fans leaped from 500,000 to 6 million within a single year. The problem:  When the chain offered all of those fans a no-strings-attached free taco (a goodwill gesture during the quickly dropped class-action suit about its beef filling), just 3% (200,000) responded.  

Blum's observation:  "We haven't even been able to give away food, never mind figure out how to sell it."

Another lesson in the mysteries of using social media for marketing, even without the monetization aspect? SocialCommerceToday blogger Paul Marsden thinks the results are mostly indicative of a common mistake: offering items that are readily available (a 99-cent taco) and have no "social currency" value, like an exclusive for brand fans.



"We'd recommend thinking twice about f-commerce, if you are just going to sell [or give away] what's already readily available elsewhere," he writes.

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