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Taco Bell enlists Tumblr to play up creative mobile storytelling

Taco Bell continues to leverage mobile and social media with what it claims is the first Tumblr comic book.

The 24-image series chronicles a character named Johnny DLT?s first experience eating a Spicy Chicken Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos. The Tumblr initiative is the latest in a string of digital efforts that Taco Bell has used to market the new taco flavor, which also includes Snapchat and Vine.

?In brainstorming around ways to engage our fans for this campaign, we wanted to do something completely different and innovative within a social platform, similar to how the Spicy Chicken Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco maintains innovation within the taco shell,? said Tressie Lieberman, director of digital and social marketing at Taco Bell, Irvine, CA.

?We thought Tumblr was a great fit to launch the first ever GIF comic because creative storytelling is endemic to that platform,? she said.

Snack-sized stories
The first few GIFs in Taco Bell?s campaign show Johnny thinking about and eating his first taco.

Afterwards, Johnny is chased by several characters ? including two skulls and a spray paint can ? as he skateboards through Los Angeles.

The digital comic book is on both Tumblr?s Web site and mobile platforms, but appears to be better suited for mobile since the series of images rolls out chronologically as consumers scroll down the screen.

Taco Bell is running mobile ads on Tumblr to promote the content and its page. Tumblr's mobile ads resemble a normal post within the news stream but are marked as sponsored at the top of the unit.

The Mexican restaurant chain also plans to launch a digital scavenger hunt later this month that will live through the brand?s social channels and dole out merchandise prizes. 

Additionally, a new television spot supports the launch of the Spicy Chicken Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco. The ad features sets of twins to drive home the message that the new taco flavor is the newest iteration of the brand?s Doritos Locos Tacos line.

Short form-video app Vine is also being used for the launch. Taco Bell worked with Vine personality Zach King to create a six second clip that turns a bag of chips into a taco.

More than 825 million chip-flavored shells claim to have been sold since the products launched in March 2012, and the Spicy Chicken Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco is the fourth item to be added to the line.

Here are a few of the Tumblr GIFs in chronological order:

Digital-first product launches
Taco Bell first leveraged mobile to promote the new taco flavor through a Snapchat campaign that launched in conjunction with the recent MTV Movie Awards with an effort that strung a series of short videos together via Snapchat?s Stories feature (see story). 

Since then, the brand has continued to leverage Snapchat Stories to push out content, including a recent effort where consumers could pick the outcome of a story following a teenager?s prom proposal (see story). 

Taco Bell is clearly stepping up its mobile and social initiatives for the launch of the Spicy Chicken Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco, but the brand has used digital extensively in the past, too, to get the word out about products.

For example, Taco Bell was early to have a presence on Instagram, spurring the brand to churn out a sweepstakes and TV ad in 2012 (see story). 

?We think it?s important to provide value to our fans in more ways than one so we want to be present across the social channels where they want to engage with us, all while giving them something new across each platform,? Ms. Lieberman said.

Final Take:
Lauren is assistant editor on Mobile Marketer, New York