Taco Bell Taps Digitas for Digital

CMO Brian Niccol Values Publicis Groupe-Owned Shop's Experience Working for Franchise Organizations

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Digitas has been named interactive agency for Taco Bell, at the conclusion of a digital review the Yum Brands chain began this spring.

The account is heading to the Publicis Groupe agency after a couple of stops at Interpublic Group of Cos' DraftFCB and R/GA in recent years. DraftFCB will continue to handle broadcast, merchandising, multicultural and media for the brand, which launched the tagline "Live Mas" to goose sluggish sales at the start of the year.

Santa Monica, Calif-based Search Consultancy SRI International handled the review. Among those said to be in contention during the pitch were agencies such as Publicis sibling Denuo and the newest member of the WPP family, AKQA.

The review was launched on the heels of Brian Niccol, chief marketing and innovation officer for the fast feeder, taking the reins in October. It's worth noting that online ordering was a priority at Pizza Hut, where Mr. Niccol had served as CMO.

"We were looking for an interactive agency that could help us build the right platforms and programs," Mr. Niccol said in a statement, adding, "Digitas has the experience of working with franchise-based organizations."

Taco Bell spent a sizable $250 million on U.S. measured media in 2011, according to Kantar Media. Digitas will be responsible for social marketing, digital creative, mobile programs and digital media, including search, display and mobile.

For Digitas, the win helps to continue a string of hits. The agency is on a roll after picking up top prizes at the Cannes Ad Festival for its "Small Business Saturday " campaign for American Express and has had recent new-business wins including eBay and Aetna.

Digitas San Francisco and Doug Ryan, exec-VP, managing director, will lead the Taco Bell account with additional teams in Chicago.

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