Old Spice got up in Taco Bell’s face recently on Twitter, only to be taken down by the fast-food company’s saucy reply. At least, that was the initial story in the social media marketing blogosphere and in some mainstream media reporting.
But oh, how quickly we all forget: it was just two years ago that Old Spice wrote a very successful chapter in the viral marketing handbook with its customized video responses to social media questions from consumers and celebrities. And earlier this year, Splash Media sang the praises of Taco Bell’s social media strategy in this blog post.
Both companies are clearly comfortable on Twitter, and their tweet war was simply an effective lesson for all businesses in how to use humor and appear human in their social media – all in 140 characters or less.
The story so far: on July 9th, the people running Old Spice’s Twitter account – known for absurdist humor that plays off the “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” meme – issued this tweet: “Why is it that ‘fire sauce’ isn’t made with any real fire? Seems like false advertising.” Taco Bell’s tweeted response? “@OldSpice Is your deodorant made with really old spices?”
The exchanged was retweeted, blogged about, screencaptured and generally talked about for the rest of the week; mission accomplished for both marketing teams. We think this Splash Media screen capture/thumbnail tells the full story well: Taco Bell is also exploiting technology in its marketing in other ways. The company’s use of chef Lorena Garcia and her new Cantina Bowl offering is the subject of a QR code where the “pixels” are made up of tiny lemons and avocados. This MediaPost story has the details.
It’s clear that both Old Spice and Taco Bell know their audiences, stayed consistent with their humor strategies and are willing to explore new storytelling tactics. Extra points go to Taco Bell for its tasty response, but we think Old Spice still comes off smelling pretty good with its social media marketing.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in our Comments section about how Old Spice and Taco Bell are using Twitter and what you think the lessons are for small/midsize businesses.
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I’m a native Texan who lives in Seattle. Finding authentic Tex-Mex food in the Puget Sound region is about as likely as enjoying a full week’s worth of sunny days. In June. So my family and I have come to rely on Taco Bell as a reliable substitute for Mexican comfort food – maybe not like Mom used to make, but close enough for sports, as we former journalists used to say.
That’s why the news of Taco Bell’s new branding campaign and menu items got my attention, especially with its reliance on Twitter marketing to spice up customer interest. New hashtags and social media-themed activities have helped to focus the media on the new “Live Mas’” slogan, which officially is unveiled during this weekend’s NBA All-Star Game festivities. The fast-food restaurant chain, owned by Yum! Brands, is also partnering up with former corporate cousin Frito-Lay for a March 8th introduction of the new Doritos Locos Taco, made using Doritos Nacho Cheese chips as the taco shell. And after previous failed attempts, Taco Bell is once again offering breakfast items at more than 700 U.S. locations.
That’s a major marketing effort. So those following @TacoBell (164,000-plus followers) on Twitter have been treated (tweeted?) to a stream of cheerily-delivered teases of the new menu items, early looks via YouTube of new TV commercials and lists of participating stores offering breakfast. The Taco Bell social media team, to its credit, isn’t deleting conversations (some using profanity) that started with complaints about customer service or non-working Playstation Vita codes in select restaurant offerings; these get apologetic responses and promises to fix the situation.
Taco Bell also used Twitter and a website to promote its week-long Hometown Tweet-Off contest, which ended Feb. 20th. Customers were asked to tweet using the #DoritosLocosTacos and #Contest hashtags; the most retweeted tweet wins a visit to their town from the @TacoBellTruck (14,000-plus followers). Although the website says the contest is now closed and the company is currently “calculating all the retweets,” media reports indicate the campaign did the trick by getting some trade publication and mainstream media attention and generating some retweets from various celebrities, including model Niki Taylor and “The Blind Side’s” Leigh Anne Touhy.
I’ve reached out to Tressie Lieberman, director of social and digital marketing for Taco Bell, to get more insight into how her company views Twitter for brand awareness and customer interaction, and its overall social media strategy. We’ll update if we get any response.
(I’ve also asked her about the curious case of the @TacoBellRoadTrip account. This purported to be five guys planning an East Coast tour of Taco Bell’s to rate the restaurants and send out a stream of tweets, pics and videos. The account had 16,000-plus followers, and it was using the Taco Bell logo. It actually asked the company to get in touch with them. I’m guessing it did; suddenly on Friday morning, searches for the account and a #TacoBellRoadTrip hashtag turned up nada on Twitter. Perhaps a little social media indigestion caused by not getting permission from a major brand?
What do you think of Taco Bell’s use of social media for its new campaign? Serve up your piping hot comments below and consider the following headlines you may have missed from the week:
The Eternal Question About Social Media
That is: is it right for your small business? Millenial Branding’s Dan Schawbel, writing in American Express’ Open Forum, answers that question with three others that business owners should ask themselves before starting a Facebook or Twitter strategy.
We Come To Praise Social Media Managers, Not To Bury Them
I’m guessing this New York Observer post by The Barbarian Group’s Rick Webb has already made the rounds in the social media marketing blogosphere. But I just can’t resist, especially after writing this post last year.
Oh Look: Another Pinterest Post! Read This Now Instead Of Getting Your Work Done
Actually, this well-reported item by Mashable’s Lauren Drell gets deep into Whole Foods’ strategy for this blazing-hot new social network. But I still needs those reports on my desk by end-of-day.
That’s it for this week. As always, share any thoughts/comments for us in the space below. Have a great weekend, good luck on your Academy Awards ballots, and we’ll discuss social media and the Oscars on Monday.
Stay up-to-date on the latest in social media marketing; subscribe to our award-winning blog!
There’s no time to get bored on Twitter; 140-character blasts aren’t conducive to stereotypical promotional spiels. It’s better to be concise and have fun, and that’s why the North Texas-based small business Save Phace has been the perfect candidate for Twitter marketing.
Save Phace (disclosure: Splash Media client) makes customizable face masks for extreme sports enthusiasts. Its website, blog and social media platforms all have an on-the-edge, adrenaline-junkie vibe in their design. The company brings that same attitude to its monthly Twitter contests; Save Phace comes up with a new hashtag every month and asks followers to tweet using the tag or retweet what the company says. Every time followers do that, they are entered for a monthly drawing.
The resulting interaction has helped Save Phace nearly triple its Twitter followers in a short period of time. “It’s a good example of fan engagement – how to turn fans into customers,” says Splash Media’s Jennifer Sokoloff (@SokoOnTheRadio on Twitter), who manages the Save Phace account. “It’s an easy platform to have fun on, which is what Save Phace is about. And the fact that we can geotarget is always a plus. We want to be talking about what our fans are talking about.”
Twitter wants to enable similar matchmaking for small businesses and its platform. The microblogging social network announced today that starting in March, it will partner with American Express to begin a new advertising initiative for small businesses based on its Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts programs.
“Successful small business owners intuitively know how to build meaningful relationships with their customers,” says the official Twitter blog. “They were the first to use Twitter to talk with consumers in real time, and their creativity demonstrated Twitter’s potential as a marketing platform. Today, some of the most effective marketing campaigns we see come from small, local, or Internet-only businesses.”
Precise details are forthcoming; for now Twitter says it simply wants to make it easier for businesses to advertise on its network. American Express card members and merchants in the U.S. get first crack at the new ad solution before others; the first 10,000 businesses to join up get $100 in free ads from the credit card company.
Are you a small business owner? Are you already using Twitter marketing in your social media strategy? Or are you a social media marketing professional with some Twitter experience? Please share some success stories with us in our Comments section.
Stories You May Have Missed
- Top business bloggers via The 10 Group/Gotham Research give CEOs some advice on how to be more authentic in their communications. Good insight that can help small business owners humanize their companies on their own social media platforms.
- Jeff Lerner writes on ClickZ about the need to organize all your digital marketing initiatives into an overall, integrated strategy – social, search, SEO, public relations should all come together like a laser beam to tell a company’s story.
- Todd Wasserman’s post on Mashable on how brands can engage Facebook fans better is based on lessons the big gaming company Electronic Arts learned through its use of the social media platform. But there are also teachable moments here for smaller companies looking to keep customers visiting their Facebook pages, and staying longer when they do.
That’s it for this week. Please share any thoughts you may have trends in social media marketing in our Comments section. Have a relaxing weekend, and we’ll see you back here on Monday.