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By Published on .

Tricon Global Restaurants' Taco Bell, the fast-food chain responsible for introducing the U.S. to Mexican food on a mass scale, is stepping up efforts to target Hispanic consumers.

Until now, the chain has mostly reached the segment through local marketing programs. But it has boosted its Hispanic ad budget from less than $1 million to between $2 million and $5 million, and last week named Ornelas & Associates, Dallas, to handle it.

Valdes Zacky Associates, Los Angeles, previously handled.

"It is not the real thing in terms of Mexican food, but definitely there's a market for it," said agency President Victor Ornelas. And industry observers agree it's an undertapped segment.


Mr. Ornelas said Hispanic consumers are already frequent visitors to fast-food restaurants, noting "the challenge for us is to get them to frequent Taco Bell vs. Burger King."

Work has already started on new Hispanic advertising to break in the fourth quarter, Mr. Ornelas said. The first work from his shop will break in Los Angeles.

One industry executive with an expertise in Hispanic marketing said Taco Bell has lagged behind McDonald's Corp. and Burger King Corp. in reaching Hispanics.

Taco Bell is "thinking why would a Hispanic family go to a [fast-food restaurant] as opposed to making it from scratch. But, Hispanic families are

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