TACO BELL TAPS PAIR OF SHOPS

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Taco Bell Corp. will refocus on its value heritage with the help of two new agencies.

The chain last week wrapped up one of the speediest reviews in fast-food history (just one month long) with the appointment of lead agency Bozell Worldwide, New York and Orange County, Calif., and the Richards Group, Dallas, to handle its $150 million account.

Despite 11th-hour speculation that incumbent Foote, Cone, & Belding, San Francisco, would hold onto the whole enchilada, Taco Bell ended the six-year, love-hate relationship.

Although FCB presented a "very strong" pitch, VP-Marketing Blaise Mercandante said, a change of agencies will give Taco Bell a "fresh approach." He wouldn't specify whether a fresh approach will include a new tagline to replace "Cross the border," stating only that the value message will be paramount.

Bozell will handle most media buying and planning and all field marketing. Richards Group principal Stan Richards said his agency will handle radio creative, splitting TV creative with Bozell. Mr. Richards termed the account "one of the highest profile wins ever for an agency in the Southwest."

Both agencies speculated they will be paid flat fees; a Bozell executive said the agency expects to handle two-thirds of the account.

Bozell CEO Chuck Peebler said the account will be serviced from Bozell/Salvati, Montgomery, Sakoda in Costa Mesa. Salvati already handles Taco Bell unit Hot 'n Now's $5 million account.

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