Taco Bell has, quite literally, found a new marketing vehicle, and its name is Lyft.
The fast-food chain is beginning a venture with the ride-sharing company this week that will allow Lyft passengers to request rides that incorporate a stop at a Taco Bell drive-through between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.
The companies will test the option, which will appear as "Taco Mode" in the Lyft app, during the next two weeks around a Newport Beach, Calif., location, with plans to expand the program nationally next year.
It's an attempt to tap into the trend of young people increasingly car-pooling through apps like Lyft and its larger rival Uber, particularly on nights out with friends. While Taco Bell offers delivery to customers and advertises the locations of its restaurants through the navigation app Waze, partnering with a ride-sharing company represents a new type of "experience innovation," said Marisa Thalberg, Taco Bell's chief marketing officer.
"I kind of think of this like inverse delivery — like we're delivering you to Taco Bell," she said in an interview. "You're being delivered to the food as opposed to having to get in your own car and drive."
As it stands, Lyft and Uber do not have stated policies about how drivers should handle passenger requests to swing by fast-food drive-throughs, though the question regularly pops up in online discussion forums for drivers.
"Some people are either afraid to ask or don't know if they can ask," Ms. Thalberg said. "We're taking all those questions marks of, 'Would it be unseemly to ask my Lyft driver to go through the Taco Bell drive-through?' And now we're not only going to make it permissible, we're going to celebrate this behavior."