by Gina Rossi

In 2011, Taco Bell hit an all time low with both sales and overall brand image to their cross-cultural millennial target market. The brand’s persona has been the “Jester” but nobody wants to experience food as a joke. Also, the ethnic culture in our country has significantly shifted from a mostly white population to a diverse population with new inspirations to society. With this being said, it was time for an overall makeover for Taco Bell to appeal to the new-age culture and make its brand become relevant once again.

First, Taco Bell had to exchange the “Jester” personality to something people wanted to follow. People in their 20s are the ones setting new trends in fashion, music, and most importantly, food. In 2011, people “Facebook Liked” twice as many food brand/groups as fashion brand/groups. At this time, Taco bell was still promoting their brand as “food as fuel.” Times are changing and people are seeking out new food, going to social media, and taking pictures. This led to an important insight for Taco Bell to now see food as an experience and shift their persona to the “Explorer”.

With an updated brand archetype, this allows Taco Bell to form a new campaign to appeal to the cool, hip millennial-age group. Taco Bell first had to exchange their old slogan of ‘Think Outside the Bun’ for ‘Live Mas’. This was able to rebrand them to the food-experience restaurant they were aiming for.

This slogan was the beginning for Taco Bell’s brand-new product introductions. First, the Cantina Bell menu features quality ingredients in comparison to Chipotle but at a lower cost. Celebrity chef Lorena Garcia, a judge from NBC’s America’s Next Great Restaurant is the creator of this menu because she offers this cross-cultural experience that people are seeking. Second, the “First meal” menu offers a never before seen Breakfast section. Then, the main focus is the launch of Doritos Locos Tacos, which Greg Creed, Taco Bell CEO, calls the chain’s biggest product launch ever.

Before the company’s campaign debut on television, Taco Bell tested their research and conducted 34 one-on-one, in-depth Skype interviews with their target market of people ages 18-29 across the world with a concept video with the new “Live Mas” slogan and “Explorer” persona. They also tested their findings with industry experts from Tru-insights, Mintel, and J.D. Power and Associates.

After this, the “Live Mas” campaign launched its first out of three commercials at the end of February 2012 during TNT’s NBA All-Star Saturday Night. The commercial was titled “Pockets” and showed a man emptying his pockets to find a Taco Bell Sauce saying, “That was fun.”

The next commercial starred super fan Matt Christiano road tripping 965 miles to the closet Taco Bell test market to taste and “experience” the new Doritos Locos Tacos. The voice-over declared: “The new Doritos Locos Tacos – now at Taco Bell everywhere. Sometimes you gotta “Live Mas.”

Another commercial aired where 10,000 Doritos Locos Tacos were flown to the small town of Bethel, Alaska in a “Live Mas” food truck. This showed customers that they not everyone had to travel as far as Christiano to have a Doritos Locos Taco.

Live Mas truck

Live Mas truck

This campaign was a social win for numerous reasons. Sales shot up with a 13 percent increase and brought back into culture by being the talk of real and fake news on shows like The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, and South Park. Social Media increased during this campaign reaching over 6 million mentions. Twitter increased by 35 percent in followers in just six months while Facebook experienced a 33 percent increase in their overall fan base. Lastly, Taco Bell achieved the highest brand ratings with their new image as the “Explorer.”

One thing I would have done to improve this campaign would be to make additional promotional ideas in Social Media, even though commercials are great for a national level, I think more content via Social Media is important to increase higher hype and followings.


Bhasin, K. (2012, July 2). After A Hoax, Taco Bell Sent 10,000 Free Doritos Tacos To A Small Alaskan Town. Retrieved February 7, 2015, from

Horovitz, B. (2012, February 20). Taco Bell comes out of its shell to ring in a new menu. Retrieved February 7, 2015, from

Morrison, M. (2012, February 12). Taco Bell to Exchange ‘Think Outside the Bun’ for ‘Live Mas’ Retrieved February 7, 2015, from

Taco Bell: Live Más. (2013). Retrieved February 7, 2015, from Warc.                           

Taco Bell Unveils ‘Live Mas’ Slogan, Says Adios To ‘Think Outside The Bun’ (2012, February 23). Retrieved February 7, 2015, from