Taco Bell and Lyft, companies that already cater to the whims of late-night snackers, are joining forces.
Fans have been using social media to praise Lyft drivers who agreed to make pit stops at drive-thrus on their way home.
Lol I can't believe I took a Lyft and got him to go through the Taco Bell drive thru, and then made him take me back to my dorm😂— Josette Ver (@JosetteVer) April 29, 2017
Lyft even pointed out the practice in an October tweet of its own.
After each company noticed the behavior, a ride-thru collaboration was born.
Taco Bell and Lyft on Tuesday announced their test of "Taco Mode," which certain users can choose from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Thursday nights through Saturday nights over the next two weeks. When customers choose Taco Mode rather than Line, Lyft, or the other modes available in the Lyft app, the usual car icons on the map become tacos.
Riders (in cars decked out in a taco pattern) can head to the nearby Taco Bell, get their orders and redeem a coupon for a Doritos Loco Taco, then proceed home or wherever they're headed.
The companies teamed up to "blow wind on this emerging behavior we're seeing in social," said Taco Bell Chief Marketing Officer Marisa Thalberg.
The promotion is starting only in one Taco Bell in Orange County, Calif., with plans to expand in and beyond that area in the near future. Taco Bell and Lyft are planning for a nationwide rollout in 2018.
(That rollout plan follows the tech way of doing things more the fast-food way, in which new products are quietly tested in limited locations before any announcement of a national debut.)
The partnership shows how brands are looking for new ways to connect directly with consumers and stand out beyond traditional marketing tactics such as commercials. Taco Bell already has an app and offers delivery, which helps build loyalty. Now, Thalberg said, Taco Mode gives it a new way to give fans a unique experience. And Lyft, of course, competes against industry giant Uber and other services, plus taxi services that are trying to catch up with their own apps.
"There's been a lot of conversation about food delivery apps and apps being central to the way people are ordering food," said Melissa Waters, Lyft's head of marketing. "I feel like any app can do food delivery, but Taco Mode is bringing people to the food."
The Taco Mode collaboration with Taco Bell marks the first time Lyft has partnered with a company to do a special pickup experience, she said.