Taco Bell Hands FCB a National Creative Project

Field Marketing Shop Moves In on TBWA\Chiat\Day
LOS ANGELES–Taco Bell has given its field marketing agency, FCB Southern California, a creative project that is expected to run nationally, sources said.
The move by the nation’s largest Mexican fast-food chain follows a recent shift from creative agency TBWA\Chiat\Day’s fa-mous Chihuahua mascot toward a more hard-sell approach focusing on the quality of the food.
“Nothing has changed; Chiat/Day is our agency,” maintained Taco Bell representative Laura Gannon. “FCB is one of our agencies and does a lot of creative for us.” Gannon refused to comment on “rumors and speculation” about what the specific nature of that creative might be.
FCB’s Costa Mesa, Calif.-based operation, which handles Taco Bell, thus has taken at least a nibble into a coveted account that once was part of the family. Bozell in Costa Mesa, FCB’s True North Communications sibling, which merged with FCB in September 1999, was the incumbent on the account when TBWA\C\D won the business in 1997. TN Media, New York, handles Taco Bell’s $200 million-plus media business.
Although TBWA\C\D made the Taco Bell spokesdog a marketing phenomenon, and the agency won an Effie award in 1999 for advertising on the account, client-shop relations have become strained, sources said.
“It was a struggle for integrity versus the client’s need,” said one, adding that a creative shop inevitably experiences some strain “whenever you have an account that’s essentially retail. You can pretty much pick the clients that will or will not do well [at TBWA\C\D]. Taco Bell would be the one that wasn’t.”