Taco Bell Buys Its First Instagram Ads to Push Waffle Tacos

Big millennial appeal includes Vine, too

Taco Bell's "Wake Up Live Mas" campaign entails a clever TV push, radio ads, in-store point-of-purchase and earned social media—all common marketing fare nowadays. At the same time, the Irvine, Calif.-based company has purchased its first run of Instagram ads, underscoring how the industry is gravitating toward the photo-sharing social platform.

Earlier this month, Adweek reported that Omnicom was investing close to $40 million in Instagram ad inventory, while the Facebook-owned entity recently exceeded 200 million monthly users. Things are looking up for Instagram, and Taco Bell CMO Chris Brandt isn't about to miss the proverbial boat as his brand targets millennials with waffle tacos and the rest of its new breakfast menu.

"It's another first for us," Brandt told Adweek. "We were the first [fast food chain] on Snapchat, and we were early on Vine. We are privileged to have this opportunity, because Instagram just doesn't take anybody. We actually worked with one of the cofounders to make sure the creative fit into the Instagram mold. We are not just slapping stuff out there that people are not going to like."

Taco Bell is utilizing Vine (see example from today below) and plans to incorporate Snapchat messaging for the breakfast effort, highlighting how the taco slinger sees emerging platforms as more than passing fads. The quick-serve player is running Pandora ads as well, while leveraging its branded station on the digital music streaming service. Additionally, Taco Bell president Brian Niccol held a Reddit question-and-answer session this afternoon to chat with consumers about the breakfast menu.

"Our target is millennials," Brandt said. "You have to talk to them where they are. Certainly, our TV spots are very important—but we like to call it 'the power of the and.' So it's not just television anymore given where consumers are engaging, in social and mobile. Therefore, those things are a big part of our campaign."

When asked, the Taco Bell CMO declined to characterize spend on the Instagram ads, which include various creative running through the next two months, along with the larger campaign. Of course, an effort with a tagline such as #WakeUpLiveMas also involves paid and organic marketing on Twitter and Facebook.

"We try to have the right creative on the right platform," he explained. "Nothing is worse than that's out of context. It's jarring to the consumer rather than engaging."

Deutsch L.A. led creative around Taco Bell's initiative, while DigitasLBi and Taylor contributed to digital and public relations elements, respectively.

On the guerilla front, Taco Bell sent 1,000 consumers pre-paid "breakfast phones" earlier this week to get the buzz going.

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