Taco Bell Blackout

DigitasLBi San Francisco | Taco Bell



Taco Bell spent close to two years developing its mobile ordering app and was at risk of lagging behind competitors like Chipotle and Starbucks. To catch up, Taco Bell needed 2 million new users for its app immediately. On October 28, 2014, at 12am, Taco Bell’s Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Vine, Google+, and Tumblr accounts, and tacobell.com disappeared. Conversations were cut off. Screens went black. Each disappearing act was executed to feel natural to the environment, requiring Taco Bell and DigitasLBi to work closely with each platform’s product teams. The only message: “The new way to Taco Bell isn’t on (insert appropriate social channel name), it’s #OnlyInTheApp.” Boom. Paid social media ads—black squares with the #OnlyInTheApp message—helped drive even more buzz. The stunt left fervent Taco Bell fans hungrier than ever, proving that the fastest way to your audience’s attention is to take something away.

"To launch its mobile ordering app, Taco Bell did the opposite of what other brands typically do to get attention, and ultimately downloads. There is so much noise on social media, with every brand battling to out-shout each other with constant streams of content; Taco Bell knew it had to be unique in order to stand out. So, the team took a risk and disrupted social media with their ‘Blackout’ campaign, silencing all of their social channels and driving fans to the one channel they wanted to activate: the new app. By creating curiosity and intrigue through absence of transparency, the Taco Bell team ultimately got attention and drove behavior exactly where they wanted it. In creating scarcity rather than abundance, they generated powerful consumer demand."

Lori Senecal
Lori Senecal
President & CEO
MDC Partner Network/ Global CEO, CP+B
Select Success Metrics
Individual app downloads in 2 days
300,000 +
Individual app downloads in total
2.6 million
Impressions in 3 days
2 billion
Increase in average check size of customers who downloaded the app
$7.5 to $10