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Taco Bell to debut ‘Live Más’ ad campaign

Taco Bell will debut a new marketing campaign this weekend centered on a new “Live Más” tagline.

The Yum! Brands Inc. quick-service chain will introduce the campaign’s first commercial Saturday night during TNT’s broadcast of NBA All-Star Saturday festivities.

Taco Bell spokesman Rob Poetsch said “Live Más” is a more “experiential” tagline, meant to reflect consumers’ move from “food as fuel toward food as experience.”

“Our guests are looking for different tastes and flavors to go along with their dining-out experiences,” Poetsch said. “‘Think Outside the Bun’ was a great tagline for food as fuel, and ‘Live Más’ is in the more experiential space where we’re taking the brand and the food. We plan to bring in more flavors inspired by different cultures and ingredient types that we normally hadn’t played in before. It’s a great way to live up to how consumers are eating their food now.”

“Live Más” replaces “Think Outside the Bun,” which had been Taco Bell’s tagline since 1999, and follows a two-year run of “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” commercials starring a talking Chihuahua.

The new marketing comes at a time when Taco Bell is recovering from a difficult 2011, when a false-advertising lawsuit questioning the chain’s seasoned beef recipe ignited a rash of negative publicity at least partly responsible for the brand’s 2-percent decrease in same-store sales for the year. The suit was dropped in April without any settlement from Taco Bell.

In October 2011, Taco Bell named Brian Niccol, formerly of sibling brand Pizza Hut, chief marketing officer. By Yum’s investor day conference in December, the brand said it planned to extend its breakfast platform to 800 locations, roll out a higher-end Cantina menu and “reinvent the taco” with the Doritos Locos Taco, a product for which Frito-Lay constructed a proprietary shell made from Doritos. The item will roll out nationwide on March 8.

Before last year’s same-store sales slide, Taco Bell’s sales had grown steadily, leading Yum management to disclose plans for the brand to be Yum’s growth vehicle in the United States, possibly reaching 8,000 domestic locations. During Yum’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call, executives said Taco Bell’s same-store sales in the United States had turned positive late in the fourth quarter and continued into the new year.

Without seeing the creative for the new campaign, restaurant marketing expert Dan Dahlen speculated that a tagline mixing English and Spanish like “Live Más” may confuse people more than clarify a new positioning for Taco Bell, which has made its reputation on value, but now is seeking to elevate its food profile.

Dahlen, chief executive of Columbus, Ohio-based Dahlen Communications Inc. and a former marketing executive for Wendy’s and Shoney’s, said the new tagline would have less of an effect on Taco Bell’s sales this year than its new product introductions, pricing strategies, operations and locations.

“Taglines are important expressions of brand positioning that restaurants have staked out, … and consumers can connect the dots, but I’ve never seen a tagline turn a brand around or drive same-store sales,” Dahlen said. “But it was probably important for Taco Bell to go through this exercise and re-evaluate their positioning.”

Irvine, Calif.-based Taco Bell operates or franchises more than 5,600 restaurants.

Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN

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