Ah, the power of co-branding.
Not too long ago, when I thought Taco Bell, I thought, “Gordita crunchwrap. Nachos bell grande. Fresco soft taco.” You know, Spanish words that have been Americanized with a Mexican menu item slapped on as a suffix.
No longer. Now, when I think Taco Bell, the immediate word that pops into my head is, “Doritos!” And despite the fact that I once tried the Doritos Loco Taco and found it to be a saltier but otherwise comparable version of the original hard taco, Doritos and Taco Bell are married in my mind. This, I imagine, is exactly what Doritos wanted out of its partnership with Taco Bell, and is therefore an excellent case study of the powers of successful co-branding.
As David Lazarus at the L.A. Times says,
I don’t know whether this is a tribute to Taco Bell’s marketing skill or a commentary on the culinary tastes of the American people.
We’ll put the checkmark in the former category. Taco Bell has done an admirable job marketing the orange-tinged shell to the point of utmost popularity in six months. And Doritos abundantly benefitted by getting its product in the hands of its core loyalists—men under the age of 35—while simultaneously keeping the company top-of-mind.
Doritos, a brand of Frito-Lay (which in turn is a division of PepsiCo), is no stranger to carefully crafted marketing success: its annual “Crash the Super Bowl” fan contest continually scores highest among Super Bowl viewers. Extending the brand into the hands of the fans is more than a marketing ploy; it puts fans in control of the brand and how it is perceived.
The ultimate winner in this on-going triumph, however, is co-branding. Taco Bell will undoubtedly note record sales when it files its 2012 10-K and Doritos has found a way to engage fans beyond the Super Bowl timeline. What remains to be seen is whether this partnership opens doors between more consumer brands and restaurant brands, and if so, how they can duplicate this accomplishment.