Taco Bell asks diners to swap out mundane meals via TikTok dance challenge

    • Taco Bell today (May 9) is introducing “Taco Swap,” a campaign that looks to encourage consumers to swap out mundane meals for free tacos, per details shared with Marketing Dive. The campaign will run in more than 25 markets around the world.
    • The chain will dole out free tacos as part of the effort, which includes a dance challenge on TikTok and Instagram Reels in partnership with influencers from several countries. The initiative is part of the brand’s larger “I See A Taco” platform, which was developed with agency Deutsch LA.
    • “Taco Swap” builds on a previous campaign titled “Tacos IRL,” which helped to drive the highest sales week in Taco Bell’s history, and represents the chain’s latest effort to be closer to youth culture.

    With “Taco Swap,” Taco Bell is iterating on its international “I See A Taco” campaign with an effort that could help it engage with Gen Z consumers by tapping into culture on their preferred platforms, namely TikTok and Instagram. The effort demonstrates how the chain — which named its first culture agency of record last year — tries to differentiate itself from other brand actions around culture.

    “[Some] brands come in and say, ‘Here’s our point of view, and let’s insert it into culture.’ Our point of view from a Taco Bell standpoint is that’s not the type of relationship the consumer wants to want to have with brands… What we’re doing internationally is really about creating a relationship with the generation that’s defining culture, and for us, that’s Gen Z,” Taylor Montgomery, Taco Bell’s vice president of global brand, told Marketing Dive.

    To better communicate with Gen Z, Montgomery said Taco Bell focuses on three things: creating a two-way dialogue; creating a canvas for consumers to co-create with the brand; and activating where culture is being created. With that in mind, Taco Bell has created the framework for “Taco Swap” but is giving influencers the leeway to make it fit for their followings.

    “Taco Swap” also sees the brand playfully sparring with competitors, a long-running trend in QSR marketing that has returned after losing popularity early in the pandemic. The genesis of the swap concept was around what happens in the schoolyard at lunch, with kids trading familiar foods for new ones, Montgomery explained.

    “We’re asking people to look at what they normally have for lunch, whether it’s a sad sandwich or soggy fries or a burger, and get them to be primed that Taco Bell is going to do something really fun to get them to think about having a taco instead,” Montgomery said. “I’d love it if some of our competitors … would join in the conversation as well.”

    Taco Bell’s “I See A Taco” platform launched last year and is expected to run for another year or two. The first iteration of the campaign saw the chain give away free tacos to mark a phase of the moon that resembles the shape of a taco. On National Taco Day last October, the QSR launched a server on chat platform Discord and let consumers message a taco emoji in exchange for a free taco.

    The “Taco Swap” campaign will run in more than 25 markets around the world, including in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom. Customers can redeem their free taco during their market’s offer window, which for most markets will begin on May 9 and last for one week during lunchtime hours.


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