Commentary

Taco Bell And Lyft Want You To Crave Them

Taco Bell has a solution for Millennials with the munchies after a night on the town: Ask your Lyft driver to drive through one of its locations on the way home so you can pick up that Double Chalupa Box you’re craving. 

Dubbed “Taco Mode” within the Lyft app, a market test over the next two weekend starts tomorrow between 9 p.m and 2 a.m. in Newport Beach, Calif., with expectations that the program will roll out nationally by next year.

“While Taco Bell offers delivery to customers and advertises the locations of its restaurants through the navigation app Waze, partnering with a ride-sharing company represents a new type of ‘experience innovation,’ said Marisa Thalberg, Taco Bell’s chief marketing officer,” writes Sapna Maheshwari for the New York Times.

“I kind of think of this like inverse delivery — like we’re delivering you to Taco Bell,” Thalberg tells Maheshwari. “You’re being delivered to the food as opposed to having to get in your own car and drive.” 

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“Taco Bell and Lyft are two like-minded brands at the forefront of technology and innovation. This extraordinary partnership infuses the culinary world into the ride-sharing cultural movement, making a late-night run for tacos more convenient — and fun — than ever,” Lyft says in a blog post. 

For the more visually oriented, here’s a YouTube animation about the partnership from Taco Bell.

It’s not the first time brands and rideshare companies have shared a ride, of course. Both Lyft and Uber “have partnered with credit card firms, clothing companies, and with non-profits to stop drunk driving,” a Webbitz video embedded in SFGate’s coverage informs us. Not to mention alcohol purveyors.

“Uber, meanwhile, is expanding its partnership with McDonald’s, which launched in June. People can now order McDonald’s delivery through the UberEATS app. UberEATS has been around since 2014, but McDonald's is the most popular brand they've partnered with thus far,” report CNBC’s Paayal Zaveri and Deirdre Bosa.

“It's promoting the partnership with a ‘McDelivery’ day on Wednesday, where users can get free BigMac onesies, Egg McMuffin hoodies and other themed clothing,” they continue.

What’s next, you ask?

“Lyft’s new partnership with Taco Bell seems like a weird cross-marketing campaign at first glance, but it could become a model for future tie-ups to come, and a new revenue opportunity for ride-hailing in general,” observes Darrell Etherington for TechCrunch.

“The tie-up includes other components of an ‘ultimate Taco Bell experience,’ including custom swag as well as a special in-car menu, and free food giveaways. The stated explanation for the partnership on the Taco Bell side, according to a press release, is that already people often ask for a Taco Bell pit stop, especially on late-night rides, but the restaurateur believes there’s a missed opportunity in terms of people who want to ask but aren’t sure if that’s allowed,” Etherington elaborates.

Daniel Terdiman decisively opts out, however, in a short post on Fast Company. “Maybe it's the fact that I've lived in or near San Francisco most of my life, and have had easy access to actual, you know, good tacos,” he writes. “But, hey, Lyft, if my ride takes a detour to La Taqueria, I'll be happy to pay more. Take me to Taco Bell, though, and I'm switching to Uber.”

Adweek’s hed has a slightly different take on the target market for “Taco Mode” than the generic Millennial: “Lyft Riders Can Now Get Free Taco Bell on the Way Home From the Bar.” Business Insider’s Kate Taylor is a less subdued in her lede: “Taco Bell is launching a new feature to cater to one of its more important demographics: drunk customers.” And Meg Swertlow is thinking the same way on E! Online: “If this isn't a match made in drunk heaven we don't know what is!”

Which begs the question of how drivers are going to feel about cleaning up the rice and beans those passengers may leave behind in various combinations and consistencies.

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