Dive Insight:

Taco Bell’s Coin Game was a staple of the chain’s countertops through the 2000s and 2010s and let consumers try to land a coin on a paddle in the water-filled contraption in exchange for free food items. Removed as part of restaurant makeovers in the last decade, the game is now being revived as a mobile app feature to boost an increasingly important digital channel for the QSR brand.

“We’ve seen so much success in meeting our fans where they are – from launching the Taco Lover’s Pass to the in-app voting experience and we’re excited to introduce this digital iteration of Coin Drop,” said Dane Mathews, chief digital officer at Taco Bell. “Many of our fans have fond memories of playing the original Coin Drop at their local Taco Bell – so it only made sense that we bring the game back for our Rewards members to transport customers back in time and give them another shot at winning.”

The new game taps into nostalgia for the 2000s and has a “retro feel” inspired by the chain’s restaurant designs from the decade. Nostalgia has increasingly been utilized by brands looking to engage with consumers eager to revisit happy memories during a fraught, post-pandemic period. Taco Bell’s QSR competitors McDonald’s and Wendy’s have centered recent efforts around nostalgia for childhood birthday parties and aughts pop hits, respectively.

After focusing on pop culture of the 80s and 90s, marketers have now turned their eyes toward the 2000s — a tactic Taco Bell just utilized last month, recruiting Paris Hilton — who popularized the catchphrase “that’s hot” in the mid-2000s — to promote the return of a fan favorite Volcano Menu that first erupted around the same time. Press materials for the Coin Drop namedrop aughts relics like chain wallets, butterfly clips and low-rise jeans.

Created by gamification platform CataBoom, the new Coin Drop game offers the same reward choices — Cinnamon Twists, a Crunchy Taco or a Bean Burrito — as the original game, and also has the same charitable giving component. Coin Drop brought in over $41 million in donations from 2003 to 2016, funding scholarships and community grants. The Taco Bell Foundation in 2019 introduced a Round Up feature that has already raised more than $20 million in donations this year, a total the brand hopes to double this year with the help of the Coin Drop game.

Taco Bell has stayed busy on the marketing front this year. Apart from its campaign featuring Hilton, the chain re-teamed with Pete Davidson to promote a new breakfast item and enlisted LeBron James to join its effort to “liberate” the trademark of the phrase Taco Tuesday. On the corporate front, Sean Tresvant, the brand’s global chief brand and strategy officer, will become Taco Bell CEO on Jan. 1, 2024.

(Copyright: MarketingDive Taco Bell revives coin drop game from aughts to boost mobile app | Marketing Dive)