Know your place

PICT0032

Last night, after a good night out, I got the munchies.  It was late, so the options for food was somewhat limited.  On the drive back home, I saw the bright Taco Bell sign, and thought why not.  (I said it was after a night out, and it was late.  My judgment was obviously impaired.)

It had been at least two years since I last had Taco Bell.  I needed a little time to study the menu, as I drive into the drive thru.  Guess what I ended up ordering?  I ended up ordering from the Drive Thru Diet section of the menu.  Even after a night out, I still remembered the heat generated from this ad campaign a year ago.  Click here to see the related AdAge article.  However, as someone who actually ordered from this section, I can attest that this “diet” has a place on the Taco Bell menu.  So, why was the reaction to it initially so negative?

Because you need to know your place.  Taco Bell doesn’t stand for healthy.  It stands for cheap fast food.  To try to run an ad campaign based on something totally opposite doesn’t work.  That’s the basis thesis of positioning and branding.  Know what you stand for and what you do not stand for.  Know how you’re supposed to differentiate yourself from your competition.  You cannot be everything to everyone.

So, how to balance stands for cheap fast food, but still offer a healthy alternative?  That takes creativity.  Obviously, there is a market for healthy options.  Taco Bell already has all the ingredients to offer a healthy option (ala hold the cheese and sour cream).  So, it’s smart to make this option available to consumers, as it add virtually no extra costs.  But, this option cannot be the hero of your ad campaign.  This healthy option is your alternative to your not-so-healthy hero, the cheap fast food.  But, I still need to get the word out?  Do you?  I went to Taco Bell not thinking I was going to go healthy, but I did.  So, sometimes, simply having it available is going to capture this market.  Also, there are sneakier ways to get this message across.  Launch a viral campaign, for example.  Generate online buzz.  Leverage tactics that can target your specific audience, such as facebook, paid search, etc.  However, mass media, by definition talk to the masses, is best left to be used for your hero product.

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