Monday, February 26, 2007


I have visited Taco Bell a couple of times lately (which is unusual for me) and both times noticed prominent advertisements for "Fourthmeal," Taco Bell's name for a meal that putatively exists between dinner and breakfast. (In other words, that meal that teenagers and adults-who-live-like-teenagers get late at night from Taco Bell.)

I happen to think this is a potentially brilliant marketing concept. If you can legitimize late-night snacking as a meal, and eventually convince people that they have to eat this new fake meal every day, it could work.

But "Fourthmeal"? I can't think of any name less likely to stick or become widely used. Couldn't they get someone to come up with a catchy name that they could promote the hell out of?

(By the way, if you go to the Fourthmeal site linked above, you will have to choose your gender in order to enter. Is that creepy to anyone besides me?)


Sally said...

I guess they wanted to keep away from referencing a specific time (as in midnight snack) and also promote as a meal that is in addition to rather than a replacement for dinner. So this is more along the lines of "second breakfast" than "brunch" (which is used to replace two meals). The name sounds dumb to me, but I'm not in their target demographic. (Though I can't imagine college students and young men just flipping for the name either.) I don't think their primary concern is creating a name that is widely used, but rather one that can be linked directly in their target's mind with Taco Bell. "Dude, Fourthmeal time." God, I would love to see the research they did on this thing.

I don't have the requisite flash updates to see the whole site, but the pick your gender thing was weird to me too. I suppose this is to support the creation of the avatar you will use to explore the site, but it would have been better, in my opinion, (and not just in being less creepy-sexist but also for playability) if they had just let you pick the gender of your avatar along with other characteristics. I mean, maybe my inner Fourthmeal eater (and note that capitalization; it's a proper name like Big Mac and not a common word like brunch) is a man, you know?

I had never heard of this Fourthmeal thing before. Not seeing TV commercials or going to Taco Bell is limiting my exposure to this kind of odd phenomenon.

Sally said...

Another thing this brings to my mind is the potential tension between increasing overall demand in your industry and your own market share. I'm wondering if execs at the other fast food chains are kicking themselves for letting Taco Bell take the lead on this. (I know Taco Bell is the national brand most positioned as the fast, cheap, health-no-object food of choice for teens and young adults, but I think there are brand-compatible opportunities for other companies in this too.) If there were a fast food industry marketing association (and I mean oppposed to political lobbying association), like there are for a lot of the food commodities (dairy, beef, etc.), I could see them perhaps developing a campaign that really attempts to persuade more people to eat a fourth/late meal. But as advertising from a single company, attempting to be the brand that comes to mind when you think of eating after 8:00 p.m., the Fourthmeal thing (for all that the name is not catchy) may be a better idea than it seems.

Sparky's momm said...

I fear that your dog sibling may have seen this commercial and been influenced. Last night at about 12:30 the Sparkster started whining so I got up to let him out. He went out and stood around for a minute or two and then wanted back in. Then he started whining again. Fearing I wouldn't get any more sleep I gave in and gave him a freeze dried chicken treat. I guess I need to hide the remote while I'm at work.

Sally said...

Of course! Taco Bell is also positioning itself as the go-to drive-thru for dogs also, hence that whole chihuahua thing. They are diabolical.