Flipping Tacos at Ad:Tech San Francisco

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I attended an intriguing breakout session — “Spreading the Word: Advanced Strategies for Content Distribution” — at the ad:tech conference today in San Francisco’s glistening Moscone Center.

The session  featured a presentation by Alex from Digitas, who walked the audience through the conception and implementation of a social-centric campaign to introduce a new taco at Taco Bell. A new menu offering is a big deal in the QSR world.

To launch the new taco, Digitas went to great lengths to construct a series of “speakeasy” videos, in which the new taco was essentially hidden from taco-starved millennials, and they had to go to great lengths to get one. This contrived scarcity was intended to create a groundswell of consumer demand — which is exactly what it did, propelled by social media.

To make all this happen, Digitas flipped the typical sequence of using “Paid, Earned, Owned” media to “Owned, Earned, Paid.” They used the content of the “speakeasy” videos on their own sites, which generated tremendous interest among their hungry followers who proceeded to post, Tweet, blog, and Instagram about this new taco to all of their followers. Media paid by Taco Bell then picked up both the original vignettes and the first wave of social media, and amplified everything. This became a self-reinforcing cycle, until something like 3 billion impressions were earned. Of tacos.

Key takeaways

— “Paid, Earned, Owned” media can be used in a creative sequence, to maximize the impact of a campaign.

— Content can work across the spectrum, at all points in the purchase funnel.

— When advertising on mobile, the advertiser needs to be “in the content feed” — because most mobile devices don’t support a side column of advertising adjacent to the content.

— If the advertiser comes up with the right message [for its audience], “the message will find the fans.”

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