Posted by Dale Buss on February 20, 2012 02:55 PM
The actual introduction of the co-branded Doritos Locos Tacos may be a couple of weeks away from joining its menu nationwide, on March 8th, but Taco Bell is in need of a hit product launch. It's been only a year since the since-discredited lawsuit against Taco Bell's beef did its damage. And the brand's young-adult customer base is still struggling with unemployment doldrums.
So the chain has been gearing up its highly capable promotional machine far in advance for the new line that consists of Taco Bell fillings and shells made from Doritos, including a campaign on Twitter. While Taco Bell typically must make marketing mileage out of a new layer of cheese here or a different flavor of meat filling there, what's different this time is that the chain is able to co-brand with one of the biggest names in snacking. A clock on Taco Bell's website counts down the seconds until the magic date.
Doritos is one of Frito-Lay's most successful sub-brands overall. And even more important, there's a huge cohort of rabid Doritos fans — USA Today calls them "Doritos-heads" — who look for every opportunity to engage the brand. Clearly, for instance, they are at the core of the many viewers of Super Bowl XLVI who enjoyed Doritos' "Crash the Super Bowl" amateur commercials on Game Day.
Doritos-heads will "soon be able to turn your tongue, fingers and hoodie strings orange by eating at Taco Bell," as the newspaper put it. Doritos Locos Tacos will have "Taco Bell on the inside and Doritos on the outside," as Taco Bell puts it.
Even before its national roll-out, some outside observers are hailing the Taco Bell-Doritos combination as magical. It's "a marriage made in belly-busting heaven," Lynn Dornblaser, a Mintel analyst, told USA Today. Taco Bell "could have a McDonald's-like year," said David Palmer, UBS industry analyst, to USA Today.
Maybe. It's just a new shell, after all. But the stakes clearly are high for Taco Bell, as Doritos Locos Tacos kick off a massive menu overhaul for the chain.
"This could rank as one of fast food's most copmlex turnaround attempts in decades," the newspaper said. "Its likelihood of success — or failure — rests on the head of a Doritos chip."