Taco Bell Redefines The Value Of $1

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Nowadays, consumers are always looking for ways to make their dollars go further. Everyone loves a bargain – and the feel-good factor that goes with getting a great deal. Quick service restaurants know this thrill better than most because they exist for two reasons: value and convenience. 

Taco Bell was the first QSR to offer a value menu and a category leader in value. But, with the onset of the economic downturn and competitive pressure in value menus heating up, their leadership position in the US was eroding. 

Taco Bell planned to introduce its new Dollar Cravings menu but had two challenges. First, the value meal space was very cluttered. Second, local franchises were hesitant to promote the new menu because value meals typically mean lower profit margins. 

But Taco Bell’s target audience, Millennials, love a good deal and are extremely value conscious. They are always looking for ways to stretch a dollar, and love the thrill of the hunt. They also find value in the unexpected. 

In order to be successful, Taco Bell needed to find a way to break through the clutter and make an impression on consumers. In turn, this would strengthen Taco Bell’s position as a leader in value within the QSR category. 

Taco Bell had two objectives - Raise awareness and drive trial of the new Dollar Craving Menu all while proving to franchisees that the new value menu would boost business. 


Taco Bell’s plan needed to connect consumers with Taco Bell in a way that would surprise and delight them – the same way the food on the new Dollar Cravings menu would leave them feeling. 

Taco Bell wanted to give people that thrilling feeling and show them just how far a dollar would go at Taco Bell. Ultimately, show consumers that the new Dollar Cravings Menu would satisfy both their budget and their cravings for only a buck! 

Nothing surprises and delights people more than finding money, except maybe the thrill of finding good value. It inspires a ‘too-good-to-be-true’ feeling, simply because the windfall is unexpected. So Taco Bell created an experience that was unexpected to delight consumers and give them the feeling of winning the jackpot. 

To start, Taco Bell would test the experiential programme in product test markets, and leverage the results and content for the national roll out if successful. 


To ignite that ‘too-good-to-be-true” feeling, Taco Bell covered the sides of buildings with REAL dollar bills. The bills had eye catching designs and featured items on the Dollar Cravings menu. Taco Bell selected locations that were in high traffic areas and close to Taco Bell stores. 

As unassuming people passed by the walls, they were intrigued because there was real money stuck to the side of a building. No one was around watching, no signs were posted saying ‘DO NOT TAKE.’ The bills were just there…free for the taking. And once their curiosity got the best of them, people removed the bills. And as the dollars were removed, a beautiful mural, painted by a local artist, featuring the new Dollar Cravings menu. 

Taco Bell representatives appeared and revealed the QSR’s unexpected surprise. Participant’s ecstatic reactions to the free cash and the discovery that they could satisfy their cravings with a dollar were priceless! And Taco Bell captured it all on hidden camera. Once consumers knew this rewarding surprise was brought to them by Taco Bell, they had money in their pocket and an idea of where to spend it – at their local Taco Bell. 

To ensure people discovered the ‘money mural,’ Radio DJs shared clues about the locations on-air, but didn’t disclose who or what the hunt was for. This mystery got people talking and prompted curious users to solve the secret using information about their local community. 


Taco Bell’s Dollar Cravings campaign delivered double digit sales increases in a category that has seen flat to negative sales. And the sales mix of value menu items soared by more than 50%. Typically, value menu promotions result in more traffic, but have a lower average spend. Not Taco Bell’s campaign. Taco Bell’s surprising experience not only attracted higher traffic to local stores, it actually increased the average spend – making believers out of sceptical franchisees. 

Taco Bell successfully surprised and delighted their fans, creating thousands of positive conversations about the “money murals” and the new menu. Taco Bell also generated shareable content at low cost for its next campaign. The programme was so successful; it is being rolled out nationally. 

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Taco Bell
United States
May - July 2013
Starcom Mediavest
Deutsch LA
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