There was no time for rest this past Labor Day for Taco Bell’s social marketing team, busy shooting a YouTube video about a fan who started a drawing club out of the chain’s Pacifica, Calif., location.
The concept was pitched the previous Thursday, then developed and filmed over the holiday weekend.
Taco Bell’s director, digital and social marketing Tressie Lieberman describes her job as a “daily adventure” where each morning begins with a staff meeting in which ideas just like this are hatched.
“It’s the mind-set we apply to the way we work in creating content, which is our moving from the role of marketers to publishers,” Lieberman says. “There is breaking news where something has happened, and we have to be ready to jump into those stories right away. And then there are also features that are planned in advance.”
Some moments—like when the White House tweeted a line about Taco Bell from the movie Mean Girls—are opportunities for real-time messages. Others—like last year’s Operation Alaska, the chain’s response to residents of the small town of Bethel being tricked into thinking a Taco Bell was opening there—require heavier lifting. (The company tried to compensate by having a military helicopter deliver Taco Bell to chalupa-craving townsfolk.)
The social team also plays the role of soothsayer. For the launch of Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos, they used social listening to anticipate what conversations might occur postlaunch. After checking out the chatter, the chain worked with agency Digitas to open three “Speakeasies” in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas where the public could get a preview of the product three weeks prior to rollout. (Video was posted within 48 hours.)
“As an organization,” says Lieberman, “we are very lean. And we know we have to move really fast because we know that’s where the world is headed, and we’ve got to be an early responder.”