Taco Bell's last two versions of the Doritos Locos Taco have been home runs, with more than a half a billion of the fast food treats flying out of restaurants. But the pressure's on to get fans to run for the border a third time to sample the latest -- and spiciest -- in the series.
To get them there, Taco Bell is leaning heavily on social media.
The first iterations of the Doritos Locos Tacos were nacho cheese and ranch shells. The newest one, available now in restaurants after teasing the public for weeks to build anticipation, is dubbed 'Fiery'.
Taco Bell has turned to YouTube to try and tempt consumers to try the new version. It enlisted a bunch of influencers it found at this year's VidCon, a conference that Tressie Lieberman, director of social and digital marketing for the chain, called "a ComiCon for YouTubers." Once there, Taco Bell tasked VidCon goers to create video content to help introduce the Fiery Doritos Locos Taco.
The chain wound up selecting 65 different video ads made by YouTube content creators to run online. Starting this week, those videos are being distrbuted through the creators' Twitter feeds and Taco Bell will be posting them on social networks too. Publicis Groupe's Digitas worked with Taco Bell on the YouTube campaign, and will assist in the digital outreach and seeding of the online spots.
While the campaign is launching with a big social push, it will be supported with paid media starting next week. That will including TV spots, in-store and radio ads from Interpublic Group of Cos.-owned Deutsch in Los Angeles.
One of the best-known YouTube stars to create an ad for the Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos is Freddie Wong, who AllThingsD once referred to as "YouTube's Michael Bay." Mr. Wong worked with YouTube collaborator Brandon Laatsch to release a video to their 6.3 million subscribers in which they create a "3D Doritos Taco" printer. Not all the YouTube stars were paid for their work; Mr. Wong was paid for his video because it will be used for online advertising media buys, said a Taco Bell spokeswoman.
Of course, brands working with YouTube influencers isn't a newfangled concept, but it is a different take for the Yum Brands-owned chain. Ms. Lieberman said that the chain is using YouTube to "understand the space," adding "We're learning a ton from how these guys engage."
Taco Bell has made social media a priority in its marketing with the Doritos Locos Tacos line of products. Ms. Lieberman said it's part of a priority to get the brand to resonate with consumers as being more authentic, by developing relationships online with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube users who are actually fans of the brand.