- Taco Bell partnered with the viral video app TikTok on a campaign promoting the chain's new Triplelupa that will hit stores for a limited time on March 12, according to a press release.
- The tie-up marks the first time that ByteDance-owned TikTok has worked with a brand on a national advertising campaign. For the effort, Taco Bell shot its hero TV spot in the full-screen, vertical video format, replicating the look of viewing TikTok on a smartphone screen.
- Taco Bell will also introduce a hashtag challenge to TikTok in the coming weeks, amplifying messaging around the Triplelupa through hand-picked content creators on the platform. The Triplelupa, Taco Bell's first tear-apart menu item, links three differently flavored mini-chalupas together, making for the brand's longest shell to date.
Taco Bell is attempting to translate the type of content that goes viral on TikTok into the traditional TV format to push the new Triplelupa. The Yum Brands chain, an early adopter of mobile tactics, is positioning the first-of-its-kind advertising partnership with the social video app as an evolution of its larger marketing strategy.
"When I look back at our history with social trends, I'm proud of the fact that we are always leading the industry and pushing boundaries," Tracee Larocca, SVP of brand engagement at Taco Bell, said in a statement. "The most natural next step for us would be to partner with a brand like TikTok, one with reinvention at their core, in order to bring the Triplelupa campaign to life."
Beyond the novel vertical video presentation, the campaign creative ribs at several trends present on the app currently favored by teens. In the TV spot, a dorky "#TikTokDad" dresses as an "eboy" — an emo-like aesthetic popular on the platform — and appears to do the "Renegade" dance that's recently sparked heated online discussion, all while describing the features of the Triplelupa.
Taco Bell will extend the messaging through TikTok, deploying the type of hashtag challenge that makes memetic dances and other videos gain traction on the site. While the campaign marks the first time that TikTok has partnered with a brand on a national ad campaign, key Taco Bell rivals have already seen success on the app.
Chipotle was one of the early major brands to adopt a TikTok playbook, and has ramped up promotions on the app as part of a broader pivot to center more of its marketing on digital. A hashtag challenge Chipotle created earlier this year themed around Justin Bieber's single "Yummy" reached more than 95 million people, according to the company.
Taco Bell's campaign points to how mobile-specific content formats, like vertical videos, could bleed further into the TV space and marketing tactics tailored to the channel. This shift has been reflected in some recent hardware developments. Samsung's new 43-inch Sero TV, which the tech giant showed off at CES, has a portrait mode that emulates the experience of looking at apps like TikTok and Snapchat, per The Verge.