From the Front Lines

How Taco Bell Got People Talking by Saying Nothing – And How You Can, Too

By Caroline Dumas • October 27, 2015

Caroline Dumas
Caroline Dumas, Naylor Association Solutions

Raise your hand if you’ve pulled into a Taco Bell drive-in for a late night pick-me-up, or for a quick bite to add a greasy coating to your stomach?

Taco Bell has long been positioned in our minds as a fast-food restaurant with the sole purpose of satisfying our Mexican food craving — but not for much longer. Taco Bell is the pioneer of a brilliantly innovative marketing campaign aimed to make fans of the brand notice and download their new ordering app. According to AdWeek, Taco Bell earned 300,000 app downloads in just 48 hours of campaign launch, and 2.5 million by the end of the 72-hour campaign.




Consider taking one or all of your social accounts temporarily offline to drive traffic to a new mobile app. RealLilTweetables

Your members are likely eager to download a new app, especially for big annual events. RealLilTweetables

Blacking out just one of your association’s social channels can help members discover you on another. RealLilTweetables

How? Taco Bell completely shut down all of its social media channels, temporarily eliminating its social strategy and redirecting all consumer interaction to their newly launched app. Coming in at No. 6 on AdWeek’s Top 32 Media Plans of 2015, Taco Bell became a pioneer for innovative marketing strategies with this gutsy approach for getting people to download their app.

Don’t worry, your association can get in on the action, too. Check out five ways your association can mimic Taco Bell and DigitasLBi’s ingenuity:

Black Out YOUR Social Media

Does your association have an upcoming conference? Consider taking your associations Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google+ accounts offline. Create an app specifically for your upcoming conference. By blacking out social media, you’re directing attendees to your app, making it your sole source of communication for the duration of the conference. You’ll be surprised at the buzz you’ll receive surrounding your app and the temporary disruption to members’ access to your social media.

shutterstock_286228544 compressed for WebDon’t Undermine Your Members

You might think the likelihood of your members caring enough to download an app is low. Think again. Your members are likely eager to download a new app, especially for big annual events. You may be surprised by how many app downloads you get. At Naylor, we’ve seen clients receive app adoption rates of more than 50 percent.

Step Out of the Box

We get it. Trying something new is scary, and we all love our comfort zone. Here’s the deal: Shutting down your association’s social media accounts for a week prior to and during an event isn’t detrimental to your long-term social media community. Your members won’t abandon you that quickly.

Black Out Social Media, Brighten Non-Dues Revenue

By shutting down your associations social media, you’re directing your normal traffic to a different source, for example, a conference app. Use your app as an outlet for generating more non-dues revenue. Offer advertising in the app, offer prime sponsorship of the app overall, or offer exclusive advertising opportunities to app users only.

Black Out One Social Media Platform

If you’re afraid to kick start this extreme marketing technique, start slow. Try blacking out Facebook, thereby leading members to your Twitter account instead. Or start with whatever social platform is most popular among your members. You’ll likely gain followers from members who didn’t even realize your association had a presence on Twitter. Additionally, your association will generate word-of-mouth marketing and become an influencer of new marketing tactics in the association world.


We know, it’s risky, but it’s also genius. This plan could transform your association’s future marketing strategies. Step out of your comfort zone; start slow, and give Taco Bell’s approach a whirl. Your association might turn into the marketing mastermind of the association community.

Caroline Dumas is a senior at Georgia College and State University studying marketing. She is completing an internship with Naylor’s marketing department.