Taco Bell, the quick-service restaurant chain, is using a nuanced mix of television and digital as it seeks to connect with its target audience.

Marisa Thalberg, Taco Bell’s global chief brand officer, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2019 Brand Masters Conference.

“Taco Bell, specifically, is still really responsive to TV,” she said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How Taco Bell’s top marketer seamlessly moved from beauty to hot fast food.)

“But that certainly is not all we do. We do incredible social media. We do digital. We now are actually building e-commerce.”

A degree of broad-scope marketing is essential given that Taco Bell’s target audience, Thalberg reported, is “half of America, really.”

Connecting with this massive cohort in effective ways depends, necessarily, on a blend of expansive reach and more targeted appeals.

“It’s a very interesting problem in [a] mass business. My ideal scenario is to have an overall blanketing approach,” Thalberg continued.

“Underneath that, we get more targeted to reinforce or to amplify. Or we go deeper on our digital message. Then we have an insight with measurement that gives us an edge and makes us smarter.”

On occasion, she offered, Taco Bell discovers that the digital lessons are strong enough that she finds herself “evangelizing the benefits of precision targeting and behavioral targeting.”

Equally, however, “That very precision,” she told the ANA assembly, is not always “a blessing, but a curse on our brand.

“We followed digital at the expense of TV. But the very messiness of TV, if you will, allowed us to reach a lot of people.”

Against this backdrop, media oversight, Thalberg continued, is every bit as important as a compelling creative execution.

“How unfortunate it would be to invest all that intelligence, creativity, and energy into having a beautiful story only to have something in the background execution of media undoing or denigrating that,” she said.

“It’s a poignant challenge for all of us to solve. How do we make sure we're using the technology we have available to us to make media work the right way for consumers?”

Sourced from WARC