Mobile Is The Main Ingredient In Taco Bell’s Recipe For Breakfast Success

TacoBellPandoraWhen Taco Bell launched its breakfast option last year, the brand had two main challenges on its plate: driving awareness among millennials and translating that heightened awareness into repeat foot traffic.

It was a tall order considering that Taco Bell isn’t known for breakfast and that competition in the quick-service restaurant space is fierce. (See the ketchup-splattered battlefield of the ongoing fast-food breakfast war between Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, Carl’s Jr. and others.)

On top of that, millennials – Taco Bell’s intended target – are often difficult to reach and hard to engage.

“They have messages being thrown at them every which way at all times, and we need to be the one that breaks through to them,” said Juliet Corsinita, VP of media and brand partnerships at Taco Bell, which turned to music streaming and discovery platform Pandora to help develop and implement a mobile-centric breakfast outreach strategy.

The two had already been working together on various initiatives over the last five years, including dedicated music stations to support Taco Bell’s ongoing Feed the Beat campaign. Taco Bell is also often first in line to experiment with new Pandora ad units as they’re released, like Promoted Stations.

Pandora has more than 78 million active monthly users in the US. Millennials, adults between 18 and 34, comprise 42% of Pandora’s digital audience and spend more than 21 hours per month tuning into the service. Around 75% of those listening hours take place on a mobile device.

“Some people even set their alarms to wake up to Pandora,” said Corsinita, who noted that Pandora’s logged-in audience was particularly appealing from a targeting and measurement point of view. “There’s an emotional connection around music and it’s an important element of the morning routine.”

Which made Pandora a logical place to reach out to millennials. What was less obvious was how to move consumers from engaging with a piece of content at the top of the funnel to actually buying something off the Taco Bell breakfast menu.

“At the end of the day, we’re responsible for driving traffic into the store and showing the brand exactly how their marketing is driving that,” said Heidi Browning, Pandora’s SVP of strategic solutions.

The overarching campaign concept, “Breakfast Defectors,” was developed by Taco Bell’s lead creative and digital agency, Deutsch LA, with spots that exhorted consumers to chuck their tired old breakfast routine and try something new.

The media mix around Breakfast Defectors was strategic and dayparted for the morning rush. First, Pandora targeted millennial listeners with a high-impact welcome mobile interstitial. Following that, it interspersed mobile audio, video and display ads throughout their listening experience.

The purpose of the audio ad was to grab attention with the offer of a free sausage biscuit taco redeemable at the nearest Taco Bell location. Video and display acted as pinch hitters to keep the Taco Bell breakfast menu top of mind.


The campaign also awarded members of the target audience with an hour of uninterrupted listening as thanks for engaging with Taco Bell content through Pandora’s Sponsored Listening native ad product, which launched in July.

It was the value exchange Taco Bell was looking for, Browning said.

“Taco Bell could fulfill their mission of raising awareness, and millennials could get something in return,” she said. “Millennial audiences covet value, it’s how you win their attention.”

A brand study conducted by Millward Brown Digital on behalf of Pandora during the campaign found a 26% boost in awareness of Taco Bell’s biscuit taco among those who were exposed to the Breakfast Defector messaging. Millward Brown also found a 28% uptick in message association against the campaign tagline – “The Next Generation of Breakfast” – and a 16% lift in product association in answer the question, “Which QSR offers the biscuit taco?” (Answer: Taco Bell, of course.)

But the proof was in the breakfast pudding in terms of offline activity, said Corsinita. Generating consideration, trial and purchase is one thing. Breaking someone’s entrenched morning routine and getting that person to come back multiple times is another.

A follow-up study with location analytics company Placed tied media placements on Pandora back to in-store visits. Placed determined that one in seven exposed listeners returned to a Taco Bell store within a 10-day period. The exposed group was also 15% more likely to visit a Taco Bell location than people in the control group.

The shorter purchase cycle was and is critical, Corsinita said.

“Breakfast isn’t necessarily something someone thinks about weeks or months in advance, but it’s a decision that we make every single day,” she said. “And that frequency of behavior is just as important to us at the top-of-funnel stuff – you just can’t have one without the other.”

In addition to Pandora, the Breakfast Defector campaign drove awareness on terrestrial radio, social and what Corsinita called “the big twin engines of TV and digital.” With help from DigitasLBi, Taco Bell rounded out the strategy with targeted messaging on Instagram, news apps and navigation app Waze, which would display branded pins to drivers when they were stopped at traffic lights.

Breaking into a new category takes continuity, Corsinita said, who noted that Taco Bell plans to continue working with Pandora in 2016.

“Breakfast was a big launch for us,” she said, “but we’re keenly aware of the fact that we you have to continue to build that routine.”

 

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