How ZEFR Quesalupa’d Its Way to an IAB MIXX Award

Something happened during New York Advertising Week back in September, and we forgot to boast about it: ZEFR scored a silver at the IAB MIXX Awards in the Social – Influencer Marketing category for its “Taco Bell Quesalupa” launch campaign, created in collaboration with marketing agencies DigitasLBi and Deutsch.

Rolled out in four phases around Super Bowl 50 (Pre-Order, Pick-Up, Game Day, #BiggerThan), the Quesalupa campaign featured 85 pieces of content, from tweets and Instagram posts to multi-part Snapchat Stories, that generated a total of 7,442,408 engagements.

The genesis of the campaign can be traced back to the middle of 2015. ZEFR had been working on media with Taco Bell, Digitas and Deutsch as an upfront partner. Six months ahead of the Super Bowl, Deutsch asked ZEFR for research for a “big secret menu release” they wouldn’t name.

Deutsch wanted to get a pulse on content and influencer trends for millennials, so the ZEFR team used its technology to review data from the top 78,000 influencers across Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and determined which were best suited for the campaign based on criteria including number of posts, followers, engagement per post and recent topics.

“The further we got into the research and findings, the more Deutsch and Taco Bell decided that a massive, cross-platform influencer activation was essential to launch this new Menu item especially around the Super Bowl,” says Josefina Schmella, Senior Account Executive for ZEFR. “We identified about 40 influencers that resonated with Taco Bell’s key content pillars and who drove strong engagement amongst millennials”

Eventually, they narrowed the list down to 16 influencers, including high profile personalities Jenn McAllister (JennXPenn), Shaun McBride (Shonduras), Hayes Grier and EDM deejay Kaskade, and created a strategic schedule outlining who would post in what order across their platforms.

Taco Bell didn’t come out of the gate extolling the cheesy goodness of the Quesalupa, which takes lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar, beef and sour cream and puts it inside pepper jack-stuffed tortillas fried into the shape of a taco. It kicked off the campaign with a press release that stood out by virtue of what it didn’t reveal: large portions of its text were redacted (blacked out), like top secret info in a government document released to the public.

The mystery continued with the initial round of social media posts. A plain green box – akin to a green screen backdrop that’s replaced CGI in postproduction – was sent to key influencers.

Without revealing anything other than the box represented a new menu item from Taco Bell, the campaign was able to drive 71,000 pre-orders of the Quesalupa. And many of those who  pre-ordered became influencers themselves, logging on to social media to extol the virtues of the Quesalupa.

The Quesalupa was given its big reveal in a Super Bowl TV commercial. In a crossover with the influencer campaign, the spot featured a cameo by social media star Hayes Grier (followers: 3.95M Twitter, 5.58M Instagram, 4.4M Vine), as well as appearances by media and sports personalities including George Takei and NBA star James Harden.

While the big win for ZEFR was the nearly 7.5 million engagements the Quesalupa campaign generated for Taco Bell, the collective nod of approval from the jury of 33 industry leaders from top marketers, agencies and publishers who deemed it worthy of an IAB MIXX Award is a nice bonus.

“Taco Bell is a cool, fun brand that’s consistently at the pulse of pop culture, and they understand how to communicate and have fun with their fans,” says Schmella. “The Quesalupa campaign is only a glimpse into what will come from Taco Bell’s creator program in 2017.”