Taco Bell counts on superheros in CRM program

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Taco Bell has launched its first social media CRM program, using original cartoon episodes to engage consumers. The company plans to expand the effort this summer after a May soft launch on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and mobile platforms.

Draftfcb's Chicago and Orange County offices are managing the initiative's creative elements. The fast-food chain's strategy is to increase customer engagement and deepen consumers' relationships with the brand.

The effort includes a microsite, www.SDIF.com, dedicated to the “Super Delicious Ingredient Force,” a band of superheroes that fend off such villains as the “Cruddy Combo Clan.” The site includes webisodes that echo the 1970s' and 80s' “Super Friends” cartoons, with heroes including Captain Enchilada Sauce, Commander Seasoned Beef, Chicken Woman, Flex Tortilla, Crunch Boy and Dr. Steve Value.

The characters are named after Taco Bell flavors.

“People ultimately want to be entertained,” said Danielle Wolfson, senior associate manager of interactive marketing at Taco Bell. “Communicating with consumers has become multifaceted now.”

Goals include both customer acquisition and retention, Wolfson said.

Consumers can also download ringtones, post images to their Facebook profile and get character wallpapers. The site links to social media pages for the characters on Facebook or Flickr, and video images of the characters in their environment. For instance, Flex Tortilla can be heard pumping iron in a weight room. Characters also have their own Twitter accounts.

Taco Bell is launching two more webisdoes imminently, said Berk Wasserman, VP, associate creative director in Chicago.

Wolfson said the campaign is an opportunity for Taco Bell consumers to have a two-way dialogue that is not possible with a 30-second spot. She added that it is also an opportunity to spread Taco Bell virally.

“[With a] TV spot, you can talk about it, but it really doesn't have that sharing capability,” she said.

Wolfson said the target demographic is Taco Bell's core 18-to-34-year-old segment.

Jeff Maerov, SVP and group creative director for Draftfcb added: “But, it's for anyone who grew up on superhero cartoons. It's really more of a mind-set than an age range.”

Wasserman noted that since its soft launch, the campaign has gained about 3,000 new social media friendships and resulted in 400,000 views on YouTube. Captain Enchilada alone has amassed about 800 friends on Facebook, he added.

Wolfson added that value is “always core to the Taco Bell brand,” and it will play a role in the brand's messaging through the rest of the campaign, which will run indefinitely.

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