A small digital agency in Austin, TX, saw on the horizon last month the gathering storm of the South by Southwest festival moving in its direction. With it would come the throngs of celebrities, bands, filmmakers and some 35,000 excited attendees who would roll in from across the globe.
The agency, Tocquigny, didn’t purchase an exhibit booth or rent a darkened bar to host a glittery party. But what it did have was a love of tacos and it wanted to share that love with as many attendees as possible to draw attention to itself. The idea was to take people away from the conference center and into the neighborhoods of Austin where they could get a real taco, a taste of authentic Austin.
It wrapped a rented bus with graphic illustrations inspired by eclectic East Austin and branded it the “Tocquigny Taco Tour”—outfitted with a three-dimensional Taco strapped to the front. It put together a bus schedule, stopping downtown March 8 through March 10 ferrying busloads of SXSW attendees to a different local Taco joint during lunch hours like Maria’s Taco Xpress and Torchy’s Tacos. Along the way, craft beer was served. The mantra: “Escape for an hour, Eat like an insider.”
The 20-seat bus also operated, of course, as a moving billboard. Street teams moved around near the bus stop handing out bus schedules with simple graphics and the #tqtacotour hashtag and branded beer Koozies and t-shirts.
It was a way for Tocquigny to make an impact in its own way, beyond what the conference offered to exhibitors and sponsors and to demonstrate its capability to integrate online and offline, Prentice Howe, executive creative director at Tocquigny, said.
To market the tour, the agency created a responsive microsite that operated across all platforms. It took on the look of the “Taco Tour” creative with a visual of the bus rolling down the street and included the schedule.
Prior to the start of SXSW, Tocquigny emailed its database of customers telling them about the tour and driving them to tqtacotour.com. Its social media properties—Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—were put to work and the “Taco Tour” began trending in Austin on Twitter the first day of the campaign.
It measured the program by the number of full buses it shuttled around Austin from Taqueria to Taqueria and had enough success and exposure to plan for it again next year. It used video, lots of images and the story behind the promotion to put together a case study to help drive business. Internally, the bus tour provided a lot of fun for employees and supported the culture at the agency.
“It was proving to ourselves that we could do something great in a short amount of time,” Howe says. “It was a passion project. It keeps the blood flowing and that’s critical.”