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Jason Moy, senior writer
Greg Coffin/James Duffy, associate creative directors
Paul Bjork/Eric Dean/Brad Meyers, creative directors
Morgan Carroll, executive creative director
Ronald Ng, chief creative officer
Dave Marsey, principal
Taylor Humphreys, associate producer
Gwen Barker, executive producer
DigitasLBi San Francisco, project design and development/ad agency
Taco Bell, client

“This one took a lot of courage to pull off. Kudos to Taco Bell for being brave enough to try it.” —juror Drew Ungvarsky

“It’s a gutsy tactic that works well the first time, but will it have longevity, and how does that reflect on the brand?” —juror Natalie Lam

Overview: Taco Bell was taking the next leap forward in innovation by launching its new mobile ordering app. To make the launch as big and eventful as possible, DigitasLBi San Francisco turned to Taco Bell’s online audience, who were used to hearing from and chatting with @TacoBell every day. So DigitasLBi San Francisco did the one thing Taco Bell’s savvy fans didn’t expect: to launch a brand-new channel, Taco Bell went dark across all its social media channels.

•Taco Bell Blackout ran across Taco Bell’s Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Vine, Tumblr and Facebook channels, on tacobell.com, and in TV spots.
•DigitasLBi San Francisco partnered with internal teams at each social media platform to pull off the different phases of the project’s execution.
•The ordering app became number one in the Food and Beverage category on the iTunes App Store in the first 48 hours—beating out Starbucks, Uber and Netflix.

Comments by Paul Bjork, Eric Dean and Brad Meyers:
Did you meet with any out-of-the-ordinary obstacles during development? “Lots. What seems like such a simple idea—to black out all of Taco Bell’s media channels—was actually really difficult to pull off. Each social platform presented its own unique challenges. In fact, the first answer we got from Twitter and Facebook was ‘no.’”

Describe any special interactive features. “We worked closely with each platform to deliver a custom blackout experience. On Twitter, we became the first brand ever to intentionally lose all of its followers overnight—only to reclaim them when the blackout ended. On Facebook, we manually hid four years of posts. On Instagram, we posted nine blacked-out images that created a grid to reveal the full message. On Snapchat, we posted 24 hours of the blackout as a Snapchat Story. Finally, on YouTube, we hid all but a single video.”

Is the audience you were targeting a particularly difficult one to reach? “Not to reach, but to surprise. Taco Bell’s social audience is extremely engaged and savvy. It was nuanced and tricky to catch their attention enough to actually make them think we left Twitter. The response was huge. By going dark across Taco Bell’s channels, we created massive buzz in a very short period of time. We left Twitter and trended on Twitter. We were even picked up by major publications such as Fast Company, Mashable and many others.”


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