Del Taco Tries ‘Bold’ Approach

NEW YORK Del Taco faced with the rapid growth of Chipotle and Qdoba Mexican Grill, will launch its new “Go bold or go home” ad campaign on Sept. 17.

The first ad, which features an elderly couple ordering a stripper pole for their home, is part of the brand’s “bold” overhaul. Packaging, company-wide rallies and TV, online, movie and print ads will carry the bold theme. The initial round of ads, via Doner, Southfield, Mich., promotes the 99-cent Classic Taco.

The taste positioning is a common theme in the taco category. Taco Bell, which is far and away the category leader, is currently pushing its “Volcano Taco.” “The Mexican chains do have distinctive flavor. Taco Bell [pushes theirs] with the constant limited-time-only products. They constantly have product news,” said Jeff Davis, president of the San Clemente, Calif.-based restaurant marketing research firm Sandelman & Associates. “Del Taco has to compete in that area.”

Most of the taco chains are pushing value during this down economy. Taco Bell marketing asks “Why pay more?” Meanwhile, Qdoba is running the summer-long “Love ya back” promotion. Patrons who five purchase five entrees at Qdoba get one free.

Taco Bell rang up $6 billion in sales last year on roughly flat sales growth, per Technomic. No.2 Chipotle grew 26 percent to $1.1 billion in sales. Del Taco was up 2.5 percent to $500 million and Qdoba surged almost 45 percent to $380 million.

“The Mexican segment is doing fine. It’s a good value,” said Davis. “Chipotle and Qdoba are getting a lot of growth from unit expansion. Del Taco has more established units. It needs to try and grow from getting more occasions from their existing customer base.”

Del Taco’s evp, marketing Sharon Fogg said in a statement: “The more noise we can make the better.” Del Taco spent $10 million for the first half of the year on media, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.