Taco Bell has always been a brand based on innovation and exploration, dating all the way back to founder Glen Bell, who introduced America to crunchy tacos when most of the country was eating burgers. From that point forward, Taco Bell has been about helping America discover craveable food experiences - and encouraging fans to truly Live Más.
In the last decade, food in America has moved from “food as fuel” to “food as experience.” This cultural shift embodies what Taco Bell is all about: an explorer brand that inspires people to break the pattern of predictability. Taco Bell is the largest quick service Mexican restaurant in the world. But despite continued growth, some of their competitors still outmatched them in restaurants five to one. Luckily, Taco Bell has a secret weapon. Their fans. Crazy, over-the-top, dedicated fans.
So while their competition stayed busy battling each other to the bottom with fast food value wars, Taco Bell marched to the beat of their own gong by creating enviable, FOMO-inducing, and bigger than ever brand activations that delighted and amazed their fans and turned casual consumers into loyal brand advocates.
How do you get those fans to make your brand feel bigger than your number of restaurants? You build them a dream destination. Welcome to The Bell: A Taco Bell Hotel and Resort, where taco dreams were turned into reality for five days in August 2019.
The Bell was a highly curated fan experience that celebrated the best of the brand in a way that was elevated and aspirational, yet reflected the quirkiness and unpredictability that our fans know and love.
The Bell captured attention months before check-in, exciting fans with teaser content and limited details strategically released in media coverage. Even celebrities, from Jimmy Fallon to Ellen DeGeneres, were buzzing about this once-in-a-lifetime, coveted experience. By the time reservations opened, 80,000 people had offered up their email to be notified first, and all reservations sold out in under 2 minutes!
400 fans from 21 states scored a reservation, and upon check in, it was clear that this was above all a real, comprehensive boutique hospitality experience. All of the typical hotel attributes from valet to concierge to turndown services were reimagined and recreated to fit perfectly within the Taco Bell universe. Guests were immersed in the Taco Bell lifestyle, through on-site experiences and design elements. Every last detail was full of Taco Bell from common spaces to guest rooms - from the bedspread, pillows and wall art down to robes, bath products, stationary, and phone covers.
Of course, food was front and center throughout the experience. At check-in, fans were greeted by exclusive Baja Blast cocktails. Out at the pool, the iconic Taco Bell “bong” sounded throughout the day signaling to guests that brand-new menu items debuting at The Bell were about to be passed. Other, completely off-menu items, exclusive to The Bell and Palm Springs resort- inspired items, were available for guests to try at the Pool Bar. For intrepid guests, a hidden “Freeze Room” offered frozen Birthday Baja Blast and Cherry Mango Baja Blast drinks – both exclusive to the hotel.
Custom Taco Bell merchandise, already a huge hit with brand fans, went into overdrive for The Bell with swimsuits, pool towels, jewelry, sunglasses, mugs and more available at the hotel’s Gift Shop. The experience was further enhanced by fan-inspired, bespoke activities including salon services, “Dive-In” movies, and musical performances from our Feed the Beat stage.
Everyone was talking about The Bell – whether they were there or not. With zero paid media dollars, The Bell resulted in 4.4 billion earned media impressions and 5,000+ media stories - more than 75 percent of Taco Bell’s stories for all of 2018 combined.
And the best part? The Bell drove the highest in-restaurant visits for that quarter - and we had an army of passionate fans by our side. Fan engagement and their authentic social content was priceless. Among them: an on-site engagement, a honeymooning couple and a couple who canceled their anniversary trip to Prague when they scored a reservation.
In total, The Bell garnered over 2 million Instagram posts. Via Giphy, we created 7 Bell Hotel GIFS for fans to use on their Instagram Stories or send to their friends – which garnered 1.2M+ views. Our Instagram stories garnered 1.8M+ impressions which was the most viewed on IG stories for any Taco Bell activation. Video by influencer and cosmetics entrepreneur, Jeffree Star, was the the #1 trending video on YouTube for 48 hours with 10.4 million views to date.
According to consumer insights studies, awareness of The Bell corresponded to elevated purchase intent and higher Taco Bell ratings across key brand attributes regardless of Taco Bell affinity, including “Is a brand known for innovation,” “Is a brand not afraid to take risks,” and “Is cool and up to date.”
Best. Hotel. Ever.
Fill out the form below and we'll work on connecting you to the entry creator!