Grand Ex 2024: Taco Bell and a Cast of Partners Score the Campaign of the Year with ‘Live Más LIVE’

Taco Bell rewrites the playbook on experiential earned media with a big-tech-style launch event

taco bell mas live cheez it crunch wrap

Live Más LIVE garnered more than 7 billon media impressions and 632 pieces of media coverage of onstage announcements, including the new Cheez-It Crunchwrap Supreme.

It’s a good problem to have: Fans so passionate, so hungry for a first taste of news, let alone a delicious taco, they’ve created actual websites and launched voluminous discussion forums—dedicating real time and effort—to posting and predicting menu updates and tracking down any lead, or person, necessary to be the first in the know.

For years, Taco Bell’s answer to these activities has taken shape through clever and generous fan campaigns—2017’s FOMO-inducing “Secret Test Kitchen” dinners come to mind, as does 2019’s Taco Bell Hotel that oozed with superfan hospitality. No matter the wildly inventive experiential moment the team has dreamed up, a well-paced rollout strategy has followed. Until, that is, Live Más LIVE.

“You build these programs that take months to create, and it can go sideways with a Reddit post. And so, another goal of this was to be in control of the leaks this year and have more control over the storytelling,” says Matt Prince, director-brand communications and p.r. at Taco Bell.

taco-bell-hotel_the-bell-exterior_teaserMore From Taco Bell’s Event Portfolio:

taco bell mas live 2024 @barstoolsportsTo beat the leaks, the brand decided to leak—and let fans sink their teeth into it all. The concept: to showcase a full marketing calendar of every menu rollout and collaboration coming down the pipeline this year, on top of giving ravenous fans a behind-the-scenes look at how Taco Bell’s menu is created. From a p.r. and earned media standpoint, this was an entirely new approach. The brand typically won’t disclose, outside of a few weeks in advance, new menu items or collaborations.

“This really was, for the time, laying it all out, and there were implications on how this was going to affect media coverage and brand buzz over the course of the year—are people going to think: Well, I got it all; there won’t be anything new,” Prince says. “Those were really interesting challenges and opportunities to address, and we’re starting to see the results of it as we roll out some of the programs we talked about [at the event].”



taco bell mas live grand ex 2024_streaming

A custom interactive microsite created exclusively for Taco Bell Rewards members, livemaslive.com featured special offers and merch, a live chat and an AR photo booth.

Before we dig deeper into those results, let’s go inside this media event of all media events—an Apple launch-worthy, hybrid, fan-driven and -inspired, live-streamed menu reveal experience for superfans, influencers and journalists over Super Bowl weekend in Las Vegas. The showcase took place on Feb. 9, 2024, within a custom-built, pop-up tented venue next to Fashion Show Mall on the Strip. It was live streamed on YouTube and on a custom interactive microsite, livemaslive.com, created exclusively for Taco Bell Rewards members. On-site features included a miniature model of the first-ever Taco Bell restaurant, complimentary beverages, hexagonal rigging (that mimicked a giant Crunchwrap), and live beats spun by dj and producer LP Giobbi.

The brand enlisted a cast of partners to execute the project, more agencies than it has on any project. Little Cinema handled creative direction, experience design and creative technology, including building out the digital experience on livemaslive.com using its proprietary Backstage platform; Uncommon served as executive producer of the venue and concerts that weekend; Cyrano Rox managed food exhibition; BIITE scripted the show and created in-show video content; and Broadcast Management Group managed the broadcast and simulcast.

Fans were driven to the experience via Taco Bell in-app push notifications and eblasts to the entire Taco Bell Rewards Members list. Viewers (the several hundred in attendance and those tuning in virtually) enjoyed musical performances by singer-songwriter Omar Apollo and rapper and singer-songwriter Armani White (who also served as host).

The show featured The Bell Awards, which annually hands out honors for things like, “Menu Hack of the Year” and “Drive-Thru Ride of the Year.” This year, all-pro NFL wide receiver Davante Adams and content creator Davis Burleson hosted the presentation.

Company leaders then took the stage, including ceo Sean Tresvant, cmo Taylor Montgomery and global chief food innovation officer Liz Matthews, offering attendees and viewers a behind-the-scenes look at Taco Bell’s R&D process and announcing menu news and partnerships for this year, including the new Cheez-It Crunchwrap Supreme, and a Taco Bell x Salt & Straw collaboration on the always-crispy Ice Cream Chocolate Taco with the Portland-based ice cream company.

Amid this all, the livemaslive.com digital experience featured special offers and merch, buttons driving to Taco Bell app downloads, a live chat with branded emoji buttons, and an augmented reality photo booth for fans (all trackable activities for the marketing team). Afterward, TikTok blew up with green screen-effect clips and commentary.



What inspired the program, and what is ultimately Taco Bell’s real secret sauce, was the organization-wide belief in not just being an innovative brand in QSR, Prince explains, but in being one of the most innovative brands in the world. “Period,” he emphasizes.

“One of the reasons we have a lot of success is because we consistently look outside the category to find inspiration,” Prince says. “Obviously, the brands like Apple, entertainment companies, these big tech companies, they’re playing with a different playbook, and I think where we find inspiration is asking the question: Do we have permission to play in that same space? And when we think about our answer, it’s always: Yes, absolutely. But we have to do it in our own way.”

And they did. The team rewrote its own playbook for communications, and now has the benefit of “full storytelling” at the team’s fingertips to go deeper with executive or fan commentary instead of having to speak broadly about the brand’s plans throughout the year. In letting the cats out of the bag so early, the entire company is benefitting from early-access insights.


On a stage surrounded by Crunchwrap-inspired hexagonal rigging, Taco Bell executives offered an inside look on the brand’s R&D process and upcoming menu item drops.

“It’s been a big unlock for us on a lot of different things, not just the marketing, but from a food innovation standpoint,” Prince says. “We’ve been able to get great learnings and insights from consumers way earlier on in the process on products that we mentioned that we can use to help tinker and build and grow programs as we get closer to launch.”

The results look different, and good, too. On top of the event earning more than 7 billon media impressions (post-launch, alone), it earned more than 632 pieces of media coverage (immediately post-event), and raked in a half a million views on YouTube and a quarter million views on the custom microsite. The team is noting different patterns, too. “Different spikes happening at different times.”

But the most surprising and telling result has been the content created and driven by fans—the ultimate objective, of course. Prince calls it the brand’s first experiential event “of this magnitude” in the age of TikTok. And with consumer commentary in the “Whaaaaat,” “Nooooo” and “Oh my God,” range, and headlines like, “Taco Bell Decided to Host Its own E3 Out of Nowhere,” Silicon Valley better look out for some new competition. Because Taco Bell gobbled up all the buzz.


This story appeared in the Summer 2024 issue
Rachel Boucher
Posted by Rachel Boucher

Rachel joined Event Marketer in 2012 and today serves as the brand's head of content. Her travels covering the experiential marketing indust ry have ranged from CES in Las Vegas to Spring Break in Panama City Beach, Florida (hey, it's never too late)—and everywhere in between.
View all articles by Rachel Boucher →

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