Like all Super Bowl advertisers, Taco Bell wants to use advertising's biggest day to sell you its products. There's one caveat: The restaurant chain wants to you to blindly order its latest food item without telling you what it is by using a highly mysterious preorder system.
It's a crazy concept, but the Irvine, California-based company believes its pulse on pop culture gives it the ability to pull off the stunt. And, it's relying on that hype to help it stand out from the rest of the Super Bowl advertiser pack.
"We're going to zig when everyone else zags," said Taco Bell chief marketing officer Marisa Thalberg. "We're going to do what's right for us when it makes sense. This is our biggest innovation probably."
"I'm getting happy goosebumps," Thalberg added. "I have that feeling with this campaign."
While most people think of a Super Bowl ad as what they see on TV on game day, the definition of a Super Bowl ad campaign has greatly expanded. The growth of social media and the demand for real-world brand-curated events means that in order to stand out, a company has to be able to build publicity on all fronts before, during and after the game.
It's a higher stakes game than ever before — and several sources are pegging Taco Bell's Super Bowl ad campaign investment at $15 million to $20 million.
"Ten years ago, the focus was on the Super Bowl ad itself," said Russell Winer, professor of marketing at NYU's Stern School of Business. "What's changed today is that the buzz prior to the Super Bowl ad, about the Super Bowl ad, and the buzz after the show has tremendously increased the value of Super Bowl advertising."