Taco Bell Shifts Its Digital Business

Draftfcb's loss is Digitas' gain


Talk about opening with a bang. A month after opening its doors, the San Francisco office of Digitas is taking on Taco Bell's digital business, albeit with help from colleagues in Chicago.

The assignment includes both creative and media responsibilities. Account revenue is estimated at nearly $2 million. San Francisco's other account is E-Bay. Not a bad for a fledgling operation. Taco Bell arrived after a review involving a handful of other contenders, including MEC Interaction and Huge, which pitched with fellow Interpublic Group shop Initiative, according to sources.

The lead incumbent, Draftfcb in Irvine, Calif., did not defend. Select Resources International in Santa Monica, Calif. managed the process. Draftfcb remains Taco Bell's main agency, creating traditional and multicultural ads and planning and buying media for them. The relationship is longstanding and pre-dates the 2006 merger of Interpublic shops Draft and Foote, Cone & Belding.

Big picture, the digital move represents a shift from a general market shop to a specialist. 

In making the move, Taco Bell's Brian Niccol cited Digitas' experience, values and structures. 

"Our core consumers are digitally-centric, and social and mobile play a huge role in how they communicate and make purchase decisions," added Niccol, the chain's chief marketing and innovation officer. "So we were looking for an interactive agency that could help us build the right platforms and programs to establish a dynamic, industry-leading digital consumer dialog."

The creative portion of the assignment includes social media efforts as well as mobile, display and search marketing.