Something has put a spark back into Taco Bell’s sales, and it isn’t the hot sauce!

Yum Brand Inc owns Taco Bell as well as KFC and Pizza Hut have announced a 6% growth in the Taco Bell sales for this quarter. Up from a 2% sales decline in the last quarter.

Yum’s CFO Rick Carucci predicts the next quarter’s growth to be in the low double digits.

The company attributes the sudden rise in sales to the introduction of the Doritos Locos Taco that was added to the menu March 8th, 2011.

The Doritos Locos Taco is a traditional Taco Bell taco, except the outside shell is actually made of Nacho Cheese Doritos. The product is a huge hit and is slowly gaining a cult following, similar to the McDonald’s McRib.

Rick Carucci says the full impact of the product will reflect in the current quarter.

The company also plans to introduce more Doritos flavored options such as Cool Ranch flavor as well as expanding its new breakfast items to more Taco Bell franchises.

There are also plans to make a luxury option of Taco Bell called Cantina Bell crafted by chef Lorena Garcia. The menu features fresh ingredients and a lower price point than Chipotle.

Taco Bell’s innovation with the Doritos Locos Taco and its strong marketing aimed at teenagers is paying off beautifully. The company is taking risks and reinventing itself, tossing the stigmas of the past that it had tarnishing its image.

Developing new ideas that turn into sales are a focal point of our operation at 347 Design. Our creative teams objective with every client is to think outside the box of traditional marketing techniques and develop new ideas.



Why Did John Carter Flop?


Last week Walt Disney Co. released the major motion picture “John Carter”, a film they hoped to be the studios next big franchise.

Unfortunately the film is not making headlines for breaking any box office records but is going down as one of the worst flops in movie history.

CEO Robert Iger’s dream of having “John Carter” be the box office success that spawns sequels, merchandise, and theme park rides has turned out to be a nightmare.

The movie has cost Disney an approximate $350 million to produce has so far brought in a measly $30 million in the US box office in 3,749 screens. The projections for Disney to break even set the minimum they had to bring in the first week was double that. Disney’s analysts have already forecasted a $170 million loss for the movie.

What caused this flop? It seemed like the movie had all the components of a guaranteed huge box office hit, world famous director, big budget action, and a story created by Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Disney missed a major component to a successful movie, good marketing. Disney appointed MT Carney as Marketing Chief; meanwhile Carney has never worked in a studio, and Carney resigned in early January being replaced by Ricky Strauss.

It is a crushing blow when a films marketing team changes just as the advertisements for the movie are about to kick into high gear. The focus of the movies marketing was in billboard and TV commercial, both, which had very poor imagery and didn’t highlight the films great action sequences.

Disney also fell flat on delivering a great ad during the Super Bowl, the commercial seemed to focus on people already knowing who the character John Carter of Mars is. Although the story of John Carter has been around for a very long time the character is not as well known as other’s like Batman and Sherlock Holmes, whose ads don’t have to explain background because of their worldwide fame.

A former Disney distribution executive is quoted, “You only get one shot at making a first impression … and that first trailer, it never jumped off, never did anything to catch that wave of anticipation that all new movies crave. That’s what so critical for a movie like this.”

It is reported that the director Andrew Stanton demanded creative control of the movies trailers and advertisement, virtually disconnecting the marketing team from doing any work.

Maybe that explains all those posters around New York City of some shirtless character and the letters “JC”, and the trailer that explained absolutely nothing of plot of the movie.

The marketing of “John Carter” was awful and will serve Walt Disney as a lesson; pouring money into a motion picture will not always bring huge returns. Like any product, no steps can be skipped and good marketing will always be a crucial step that cannot be bypassed.


The Ultimate Bad Boy is Back in the Spotlight

DirecTV and Fiat are cashing in on TV bad-boy Charlie Sheen. This past week two new ads have debuted starring the former “Two and a Half Men” star, now infamous for his drug fueled hotel room meltdown that led to his departure from the popular series.

Some companies might be weary of using Sheen as the face of their brand, but I see this as a prime opportunity to work with the former highest paid actor on TV as he is coming back into the limelight.

Sheen has already landed a new starring role in the show “Anger Management” debuting June 28th on FX, and its been recently reported that the star is completely sober.

Charlie Sheen has always made headlines for his antics but always manages to rebuff them and rise to the top, and last I check every brand wants to be in the headlines.

The new DirecTV ad continues with the “Bad things that will happen if you don’t switch from cable” theme and features Sheen reenacting his starting role in the film “Platoon”.

The ad pokes fun at Sheen’s bad decision making and was created by Grey New York.

Italian automobile manufacturer Fiat is also using Sheens bad boy image in marketing the new Fiat Abarth. The micro-car features edgy design in Fiat’s push to draw in more male customers.

The hilarious ad created by The Doner Agency features Sheen driving the Abarth inside a luxurious mansion as a bevy of models cheer him on. The ad even zooms into Sheen’s ankle monitor as he says, “I love being on house arrest

Fiat and DirecTv both had the right idea to work with Sheen and take advantage of his reputation, both brands want to make their products seem out-of-control and rebellious to the consumers, all characteristics of the actor.