There's the Beef: Taco Bell Wi-Fi Plan Could Outdraw McDonald's

Last Updated Jul 7, 2011 5:11 PM EDT

Taco Bell is giving 5,600 locations free Wi-Fi. Lots of stores do that now, but the fast food joint is trying to get its burrito clientele involved through social media marketing, music downloads, and other Wi-Fi goodies at its locations. Believe it or not, the plan may actually draw regulars in more frequently -- not to mention totally new Taco Bell customers.
McDonald's, of course, has offered Wi-Fi for years, installing it at more than 11,000 locations. Instead of offering a generic Internet connection like its burger-based competition, Taco Bell is following in the footsteps of the relatively high-brow Starbucks (SBUX) with exclusive downloads.
Gizmodo had its take on the Wi-Fi:

Taco Bell has teamed up with Indoor Direct to bring in-store WiFi and a specially branded TV network to the chain. Diners will apparently be encouraged to interact with content running on the network, with enticements to download free music, receive opt-in text messages, and engage in social media campaigns. Sounds like the perfect opportunity to resurrect that pot-stirring little Chihuahua.


The downloadable music is a great opportunity for sponsorship: You can picture Lady Gaga promoting her song in her latest meat dress. Taco Bell already unsuccessfully tried to get rapper 50 Cent to change his name for a promotion -- and got sued for it. Free downloadable content seems like a safer route.

Sure, Taco Bell customers may be thinking more about Beefy Supreme what-have-yous than music during their fourth meal. However, young late-night munchers fall into that cherished 18-to-35 demographic that decides what's played on the radio. To be blunt, Taco Bell is to slacker culture to what Starbucks is to upwardly mobile soccer moms. Starbucks pushes Norah Jones, and Taco Bell could push Ke$ha. These customers would make the effort to go to Taco Bell to get a free Lada Gaga single -- even if it was more of an excuse to get a Mexican pizza.

Furthermore, the content could work great with tablets. If the emphasis is on social media campaigns through, say, Facebook, customers could be trained to bring their iPad, show the server that they Like Taco Bell, and get a complimentary drink a la FourSquare. Hopefully there won't be a minimum-wage mutiny behind the counter.

Photo courtesy of NightRStar
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