It was not known whether a consultant is overseeing the review,
but Santa Monica-based consultant Select Resources International
oversaw the Taco Bell digital review earlier this year, which went
to Publicis Groupe 's Digitas. WPP's MEC will continue to handle
media buying; Digitas, the chain's
digital agency of record, handles digital media planning.
Not only is the search for a new media-planning shop a
compelling brand opportunity for shops -- in a year that hasn't
seen many media reviews -- Taco Bell is also a sizable ad
Parent Yum Brands
ranked as the 50th-largest national advertiser last year, according
to the Ad Age DataCenter, with total spending of $835
million. Of that amount, it devoted the most to Taco Bell, followed
by Pizza Hut, then KFC.
The search has been initiated by Brian Niccol, chief marketing
and innovation officer at Taco Bell -- a new role he was appointed to one
year ago following a stint at Pizza Hut.
to be our lead agency, and we're extremely proud of their creative
work," Mr. Niccol said in a statement to Ad Age .
He went on to describe why the restaurant is looking to shake up
its media-agency strategy. "Over the last few months we have been
working with our franchisees to set the brand up for success over
the next 50 years -- specifically how we can lead and maintain
leadership in traditional, social and digital media," Mr. Niccol
said. "These include two-step changes that will position Taco Bell
for growth. The first is how our media is spent, which includes a
new agreement that shifts from local to national, includes Hispanic
and more digital. Second is our media strategy. To build off our
current success, we are actively looking for an agency partner to
help us with national media-planning strategy."
Although DraftFCB is maintaining much of its Taco Bell business,
the departure of this piece of the account -- along with the loss
of the digital account to Digitas -- signals the relationship may
not be as strong as it once was.
Taco Bell is also especially important to DraftFCB after losing
the entire MillerCoors account earlier this year, as well as SC
Johnson last year and much of the Kraft business -- all accounts
that were won by predecessor agency Foote Cone & Belding.
Notably, Taco Bell, along with Yum sibling KFC, is one of the last
major creative accounts from the FCB era. Wins the agency can tout
have included Cox and Discover.
It may not be the last of the moves on the account either.
Several executives familiar with the matter said that other roster
agencies and Interpublic shops are being considered for additional
potential Taco Bell assignments. Taco Bell did not respond to
questions regarding the matter.
From a creative perspective, DraftFCB has some reprieve given
special promotions have helped Taco Bell improve sales this year,
after a slumping 2011. That was thanks in large part to its Doritos
Locos Taco, its largest product rollout ever. The chain also this
year rolled out its upscale Cantina menu.
The Taco Bell account is handled largely out of DraftFCB's
Orange County office. The agency's other big piece of Yum business,
KFC, is handled out of Chicago. Much of DraftFCB's New York office
is in the health-care business, though that shop earlier this year
won the Sea World account.
Contributing: Alexandra Bruell