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Taco Bell’s Breakfast Phone is on to Something: Mail
By: Elaine Reed
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Last week Taco Bell started mailing out what it is calling Breakfast Phones to 1000 fans and influencers. The idea is that Taco Bell uses the phone to send people on “missions” that largely promote its new breakfast menu, which will officially debut on March 27.

Initially the idea has been successful because we’re all talking about it. But this campaign has touched on something that probably hasn’t been in regular rotation since AOL finally stopped mailing CDs to the suburbs in 2006. (Yes, AOL was still mailing CDs in 2006.) People love getting mail.

Over the past 20 years, we’ve reduced the amount of mail we get by opting for online billing and statements, e-cards, and, of course, social media. But surveys show that people, especially Millennials, love getting mail. They love it so much that many of the people who received breakfast phones started posting pictures of the phone, the box it came in, and the accompanying literature before Taco Bell told them to do so. (My favorite part of the promotion? Taco Bell requires people to complete their missions using their own phones, rather than the burner phones. And they do! Without hesitation!) By resorting to a traditional marketing technique — direct mail — Taco Bell caused a flurry on digital media, which has resulted in a tremendous amount of attention paid to their breakfast menu.

Sending out 1000 cell phones with pre-paid service isn’t a reasonable marketing program for many businesses, but reconsidering direct mail is. Most marketers save their mail budget for holiday cards or special catalogs. This makes sense, but also means that holiday marketing gets lost in an already oversaturated time. Rather than spending the entire DM budget in the fourth quarter, how about trying a unique campaign in the spring or summer?

What is the next big launch date your company has? If you don’t have a launch coming up, consider a branding campaign. This winter has been brutal for much of the country. A mail campaign that includes a fun, summer-related item could be a big winner for your brand. It may not be as sexy as a burner phone, but exciting someone with mail could very well get them excited about your brand. Just don’t send them a CD. 


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About the Author
Elaine Reed is a marketing professional with heavy emphasis on e-commerce and Internet marketing. She blogs regularly on her website and tweets often.
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