LAKE FOREST, CA - (Marketwired - Apr 23, 2013) - As Del Taco gets set to debut its new "UnFreshing Believable" advertising campaign along with introducing its New Buck & Under and New Tastes menus, the popular Mexican quick-serve chain -- one of the nation's largest -- is finalizing its over-a-year-long mission to refresh and redefine how customers view the brand, its products and its service.
"I am happy to say that we're putting the final touches on a multifaceted plan that we believe improves and differentiates guest experiences and perceptions of Del Taco in a big way," said Paul Murphy, CEO of Del Taco. "It is our goal to be the top choice when customers are looking for great Mexican food at a great value. We believe our new brand positioning and customer strategy will ultimately get us to that top spot."
Murphy said the plan focuses on Del Taco's operations, facilities, menu and marketing and breaks down barriers that were causing customers to ignore a major point of difference about the chain: the quality of its food.
"Del Taco is a strong brand with a great heritage and a loyal base of fans," he said. "While we've always received top marks for our value and variety, we weren't getting credit for the lengths that we go to deliver quality on our menu through freshly prepared ingredients and a made-to-order approach. In fact, this is the reason our food tastes better.
Of the plan's changes and improvements, Murphy said, "Consistency and believability were paramount." Among them are:
"In these changes and improvements, we are reinforcing the reasons why current customers love our brand, and we're giving them new reasons to believe," Murphy said. "And we're also inviting others to give us a try or reappraise Del Taco."
The multifaceted plan was developed in late 2011, and began with the introduction of a new logo and the testing of a new restaurant prototype.
Here's a closer look at Del Taco's path to re-launch:
Del Taco focused Phase 1 on a scalable reimage program and several key operations initiatives, designed to improve and differentiate guest experiences and perceptions of the brand.
"We know that all of the best marketing and menu innovation in the world wouldn't have the lasting impact we wanted unless it was backed by a significantly improved restaurant experience," Murphy said.
The reimaged restaurant design program -- the first major facilities refresh in 20 years -- utilizes contemporary colors and expands on the brands freshness theme with a redesigned and refreshed interior and exterior palette. As of today, more than half the chain has been reimaged with the entire system to be completed in 2013.
"This is a key component of our plan that signals positive change and improvement to our customers," Murphy said. "It is designed to strengthen the brand re-launch and the idea of thinking differently about Del Taco."
Customers will find different visuals, or "freshness cues," throughout, telling Del Taco's food story and reinforcing familiar messages. For example: marinated chicken is grilled fresh throughout the day in each kitchen, beans are slow cooked from scratch and take three hours to prepare, and cheddar cheese is freshly grated in Del Taco kitchens from 40-pound blocks.
Also part of Phase 1, last February, Del Taco announced a management reorganization that included aligning company and franchise operations under a single leader to enable the leveraging of best practices and ensure delivery of "the optimal customer experience at every restaurant."
As part of the reorganization, a new role, senior vice president of operations support and engagement, was created.
And, over the past 15 months, Del Taco has updated many key processes and procedures to focus operations on delivering an outstanding customer experience. For example, a heavy emphasis was placed on training and developing strong customer-oriented restaurant teams.
"We methodically implemented new tools to improve product experience as well as implementing improvements to customer service designed to increase speed and accuracy without sacrificing quality," Murphy said.
One specific initiative is the Guest Experience Measurement (GEM) tool, where guest surveys generated at each restaurant will provide both brand and operational insights that will drive a focus of continuous improvement.
"From these changes and improvements, then, we are poised to move into Phase 2," Murphy said.
The second phase of the plan kicks off on April 24 and focuses on elevating the brand promise from value -- to quality and value.
"The Phase 1 operations and restaurant image improvements are the foundation, but new menus, new advertising, and new products will be the invitation for current and new customers to come in and check out significant brand improvements and reappraise Del Taco," said John Cappasola, Del Taco's Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer.
According to Cappasola, to reposition and elevate the Del Taco brand, the overarching message is providing a fresh look on some familiar themes of the company's key points of difference.
"You could say that in repositioning our brand, we're taking what customers already know and love about Del Taco and making it better along with providing new reasons to try our brand," Cappasola said.
"We've always done well with value, but most don't know that the secret to our great tasting food is the fact that our menu items are made to order using fresh ingredients."
This week, Del Taco will be completely refreshing its menu with a new design and two new menu platforms that include six new products. The New Buck & Under menu and New Tastes section headline the new menu improvements.
The new Buck & Under menu offers the best price value variety in the restaurant category. With 11 items priced starting at 50¢, this menu includes a Mini Cheddar Quesadilla, Value Bean & Cheese Burrito, Regular Taco, Mini Bacon Quesadilla, Jacked Up Value Bean, Rice & Cheese Burrito, Crunchy Chipotle Beef Taco, Grilled Chicken Taco, 1/2-Pound Bean & Cheese Burritos, Double Beef Classic Taco, Real Strawberry Lemonade and Medium Size Freshly Brewed Iced Tea.
"While the rest of the QSR category is focused at $1 price points for value menus, Del Taco will differentiate with prices like 50¢, 75¢ and $1," Cappasola said. "Paired with our fresh ingredients and made-to order-approach, the New Buck & Under menu is a great representation of the superior quality and value that our brand can offer."
The New Tastes section will initially bring three new flavorful products to the Del Taco menu, with plans to refresh this section regularly based on customer demand. New Tastes will include a Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Taco, a Chili Cheese Fry Burrito and a Fiery 6 Layer Burrito. These products carry unique flavor profiles that only Del Taco can deliver due to its fresh ingredients and signature recipes, according to Cappasola.
All of this will be presented on a redesigned menu that has received high marks from customers through both research and test on simplifying navigation, ease of selection and brand presentation.
"The new products, menu improvements, and image enhancements are critical to delivering on an elevated brand promise for our customers," said Cappasola. "Each represents key proof points of our brand re-launch and new communications campaign."
A significant part of the brand re-launch plan is a new communications strategy and advertising campaign. In August of 2012, Del Taco announced the hiring of San Francisco-based Camp + King to develop a creative way to communicate and bring to life Del Taco's brand strategy.
Camp + King's new perspective led to the campaign that launches April 24. With the tagline, "UnFreshing Believable," the new advertising campaign underscores the surprising difference of Del Taco's freshness and features communications that emphasize the fresh-for-less positioning.
"The genesis of the campaign comes from customers who found it virtually 'unbelievable' upon hearing about Del Taco's fresh ingredients at such low prices, and deemed it a story worth telling," Cappasola said.
Comprehensive communications plan includes packaging, POP, merchandising, out-of-home advertising elements, social media, and digital, radio and television ads, that all have been redesigned to tell the new brand story and showcase the food. The campaign kicks off with a brand spot and then another spot will introduce the new Buck & Under menu.
"People came to Del Taco because they loved the taste, but when they connect the freshness to the reason behind why it tastes so good, it reinforces our brand position and gives them a reason to visit more often," Cappasola said.
Del Taco has more than 550 restaurants in 18 states.