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Taco Bell campaign boasts 13,000 opt-ins in just 5 weeks

April 30, 2010

taco0bellQuick-serve restaurant chain Taco Bell ran a mobile campaign that was supported by traditional media to build a database of names for future marketing.

Taco Bell’s agency J&A Integrated Thinking tapped Cellit Mobile Marketing for the “RefreshIt” campaign. The program used traditional media to drive awareness and participation in a weekly mobile club that features offers, incentives and discounts.

“Mobile allowed us to expand our traditional reach,” said Melanie Corbett, vice president of media services at J&A, Brentwood, TN. “It also gave us another opportunity to reach Taco Bell’s core audience, which is younger and more tech-savvy.  

“And what better way to ‘get in their pockets’ than through mobile advertising,” she said. “As a lifestyle media and marketing tool, mobile is definitely on point.”

Taco Bell is a quick-service Mexican restaurant model, founded by Glen Bell in Downey, CA, in 1962. The fast food franchise boasts about 5,800 restaurants throughout the United States, more than 80 percent of which are franchise-owned.

J&A provides Taco Bell with strategic planning and media services in 26 markets with over 600 retail locations.

The campaign required little integration, allowing Taco Bell to run it at several locations with little direct coordination.

An outdoor billboard promoted the mobile call-to-action:


Bag stuffers were also used to promote the call-to-action:


Taco Bell’s content plan generated buzz and excitement for the campaign, and timed the offers to drive specific day-part business.

To further extend the value of the test, Taco Bell also ran a survey to help tie in the call-to-action of traditional media components to specific coupon offers.

The RefreshIt campaign ran for five weeks and attracted nearly 13,000 members to the mobile program. 

More than 93 percent of subscribers were still active at the conclusion of the program, confirming the value of the content offered and the cadence at which offers were sent to consumers.

To date, more than 29,500 coupons have been sent out to the database.

Cellit updated its Cellit Studio platform to support rolling expiration dates, enabling consumers to text in and receive a coupon that expired exactly 3-5 days – depending on the offer – after the initial text.

In turn, Taco Bell stores were able to bypass integration completely, a definite plus due to the use of various point-of-sale systems throughout this group of stores.

Upon conclusion of the program, Cellit sent a follow up survey to gain insights on the relationship between the effectiveness of traditional media and mobile.

Sixty-one percent of participants responded to the survey.

“This was a great ‘triple play’ mobile program, as it used our flexible technology in new and interesting ways, combining outgoing blasts, coupon redemption and a follow-on survey,” said Brian Bauer, vice president of operations and client services at Cellit, Chicago. “This is exactly the kind of multi-layer, interactive campaign that Cellit has become known for.”

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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