Fueling the Taco Bell Brand

By ANA InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Fueling the Taco Bell Brand

Consumers' shifting media consumption habits, and the technology driving those changes, have compelled Taco Bell to think more creatively and market more aggressively, which suits Juliet Corsinita just fine. As Vice President of Media and Brand Partnerships at the nation's largest Mexican fast-food chain, Corsinita (pictured above) says she gets inspired by opportunities to "fuel the cult of the Taco Bell brand" through digital innovation, social experimentation and media disruption.

"Taco Bell's approach to marketing starts with the consumer -- their mindset, needs, habits and beliefs," Corsinita says. "From product innovations to media strategy, we act with purpose when we rally around a human insight. We're fortunate to have a vocal and active customer base as well. Fans of Taco Bell communicate frequently; not only do we listen, but our social team joins the conversation, which drives more brand love."

Over the past few years, Taco Bell has adjusted its focus to mobile, social, digital audio and innovative partnership platforms to capitalize on industry and consumer trends. This has brought about meaningful change within the brand's marketing organization. "We've evolved how our marketing team collaborates, how we brief and engage our agency partners and how we communicate with transparency with our media partners," Corsinita notes. "We are lucky to work in such a nimble organization, which allows us to take risks and be creative at a fast pace to stay one step ahead of where our customers need and want us to be."

In this interview with Ken Beaulieu of the ANA, Corsinita, who will speak at the ANA Masters of Media Conference March 2-4 in Hollywood, Fla., explains why mobile is a game-changer, the benefits of digital audio, the value of creating a test-and-learn culture and what she's learned from the media habits of her children.

Ken Beaulieu: The mobile consumer is a big focus area for Taco Bell. How are you winning over this consumer in such a highly competitive industry?

Juliet Corsinita: We view mobile as the first screen. Despite the growth of sophisticated home entertainment systems, mobile devices are always at the ready and act as a portal to everything, from information and entertainment to our individual passions. With Taco Bell's focus on mobile, we've been challenging our media partners for better engagement opportunities and measurements for this platform. We work collaboratively with our agency partners and creative teams to understand the user experience, with the focus on adding value versus disrupting the experience. Geo-location is proving to be an effective targeting mechanism for micro-moments. Additionally, geo-location taps into mindsets and behaviors of consumers in real time to help us engage them, offer useful information and promotions and drive them directly into our restaurants.

Ken: Taco Bell has invested significant budget in digital audio. What are the benefits of this platform?

Juliet:Since exploring digital audio about five years ago and seeing an immediate impact, we continue to elevate our approach with a variety of partners, leveraging everything from discovery-based listening to content curation to user generated co-creation, custom channels and signature events with on-the-ground activations. Streaming audio is a rich space with layers of offerings to engage listeners. We also see great potential in terrestrial radio through personality-driven engagements. We see growth in streaming audio and stability in terrestrial, so we're exploring the products, targeting and customization that audio provides. We've also found that streaming-audio listeners are very social and will immediately engage with the brand to tell us how our messages made them hungry to try our latest product offering, or how much they enjoy discovering new artists who are part of our custom Feed the Beat station on Pandora.

Ken: Please talk about the importance of making media decisions based on testing and learning.

Juliet:We pride ourselves on purposefully "learning forward." We carve out a budget to explore new spaces with the intention of learning while driving the brand. With an eye toward measuring the impact via engagement, interactivity, brand health metrics and scale among our key consumer mindsets, we have an incubator to test and learn with the hope of moving those opportunities into growth areas. Of course, when we experiment, sometimes we learn what isn't a fit, and then it's a matter of pivoting our approach, waiting for the platform or opportunity to mature a bit more, or eliminating that path in favor of stronger opportunities. We've been too early on a few things, so there is no guarantee when you're a first-mover. Sometimes there is data to support those decisions, and sometimes it's just gut instinct.

Ken: I read that you enjoy watching your kids' evolving media habits. What have you learned from them?

Juliet:I've learned that when they are served enjoyable, immersive storytelling, they'll engage with it, tell their friends about it and even share it with me and my husband. That type of content transcends the screen it's on. There are TV programs they never miss, YouTube creator channels they subscribe to, games they create and games they relax to through total immersion, and apps that help them customize their photos and express themselves through videos. They are explorers and creators who pick up and use what they like and pass on what they don't. They truly have it all, and they are fearless, in all the best ways, about using these tools to their advantage.

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