Despite Upscale Aspirations, Taco Bell Planning To Unleash a New Lowbrow Snack Lineup

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 12 2012 3:35 PM

Despite Upscale Aspirations, Taco Bell Planning To Unleash a New Lowbrow Snack Lineup

143134299
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 19: Customers walk out of a Taco Bell and Pizza Hut restaurant during lunchtime on April 19, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

As we've seen previously, Taco Bell is looking to move upscale with its Cantina Bell menu lineup, an initiative that David Einhorn thinks will ultimately kill Chipotle. And on its Q3 earnings call, Yum Brands was eager to tout Cantina Bell as a key driver of rising same-store US sales. But you can see that Taco Bell is hardly eager to give up on its down-market niche:

The Mexican-style chain plans to announce this week an expansion of its sweet treats menu, with the addition of churros and cookie sandwiches to its current lineup of cinnamon twists and caramel apple empanadas. And in coming weeks, it will beef up its offering of savory snacks with the introduction of its "loaded grillers," which are nachos, chicken or loaded baked potato wrapped in a tortilla.
There's a grand scheme behind the new menu additions; by early next year, Taco Bell plans to launch a "Happier Hour" TV ad campaign touting its snack offerings.
Advertisement

This to me is the real question around the Cantina Bell strategy. The products may be a good addition to the store's menu, but the advertising campaign around Lorena Garcia suggested a bigger effort to alter the perception of the overall brand. That's hard to do in general, but it's especially hard to do if you're also running ads touting your "loaded grillers" as key "happier hour" snacks.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 23 2014 5:42 PM Seriously, Evolution: WTF? Why I love the most awkward, absurd, hacked-together species.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.