The Perfect Brand Partner For Taco Bell: Doja Cat

 The Perfect Brand Partner For Taco Bell: Doja Cat

When it comes to selecting a brand-safe partner, Doja Cat would have a hard time making it to the top of any marketing team’s list. 

"Doja Cat, creative agency of record Deutsch LA and Taco Bell found creative ways to inject Mexican Pizza into every social conversation between the brand and the platinum rapper".

"From a menu change to a musical, the QSR sees major social bump after befriending the enemy".

Left: Doja Cat, Right: Mexican Pizza from Taco Bell

When it comes to selecting a brand-safe partner, Doja Cat would have a hard time making it to the top of any marketing team’s list. 

The rapper’s Twitter feed is an uncensored stream of consciousness—a hub where she announced she “pooped her pants on stage” on April Fool’s Day, has randomly threatened to abandon her career, and continues to lean into controversy through dramatic stunts. 

While most brands would run from the unpredictable artist that is Doja Cat, Taco Bell has made a steady commitment to embracing her. 

@doja_on_live fu taco bell🖐😒@dojacat #fypシ #fyp #followformorevideo #live #dojacat #funnydoja #clips #tacobell #LinkBudsNeverOff #ayeyo ♬ original sound - doja_on_live

It all started in September 2020. That’s when Taco Bell dropped the Mexican Pizza from its menu as part of what the brand called a streamlining process. Almost immediately, Doja Cat tweeted at the brand to bring it back. She also went down the list of Taco Bell menu rejects, demanding the return of the Spicy Potato Soft Taco, which was also removed in 2020 (then ultimately restored in 2021). 

She wasn’t working with the brand at the time—this was no faux Twitter outrage. The star was just genuinely upset about the menu change. And that is why Taco Bell was attracted to her. 

The QSR is all about tapping partners that have a real connection to the brand: Lil Nas X is a former Taco Bell employee, and Dolly Parton made her way into the brand’s TikTok musical after saying in an interview earlier this year that she missed the Mexican Pizza.

Doja Cat, creative agency of record Deutsch LA and Taco Bell found creative ways to inject Mexican Pizza into every social conversation between the brand and the platinum rapper. Doja Cat tweeted numerous times throughout 2021 asking for the item. And the brand’s Twitter account playfully responded.

Tweet from @vibegina: I want my fuckin mexican pizza back @tacobell why u quiet, @tacobell Response: Doja :Writing Hand Emoji wants :Writing Hand Emoji Mexican :Writing Hand Emoji Pizza :Writing Hand Emoji

“We presented Doja Cat as an anti-hero,” associate strategy director at Deutsch LA Sara Singh told Adweek. “She’s the voice of the people. And in this partnership, her goal is to get Mexican Pizza back.”

Leaning into the fire

The whole partnership was designed to keep fans on their toes. Doja Cat’s “leaking” Taco Bell’s Super Bowl spot was a scripted stunt, for example. But the star has also thrown the brand a few surprises. 

When tasked to perform a Mexican Pizza jingle on her social media accounts, Doja Cat was candid about her lack of interest in creating the song. She warned fans on an Instagram Live that if they see a jingle go live, “know that it’s contractual.” But instead of panicking, Taco Bell leaned in.

Tweet from @tacobell: Congratulations @DojaCat on your big win. We mean it, not just because we are contractually obligated to

“I told the Deutsch team that they had to ‘get comfortable being uncomfortable,’ because this girl will push you to uncomfortable places,” said Nick Pacelli, who works with Doja Cat as vp of brand partnerships at management company Salxco. “Most brands would have freaked out. And that’s where I give Taco Bell all the credit in the world.” 

The relationship between Doja Cat and the brand has continued to evolve. First, her song “Get Into It (Yuh)” was the soundtrack to a Taco Bell Double Steak Grilled Cheese Burrito ad last year. Next, she starred in the QSR’s Super Bowl ad in February. 

Mexican Pizza makes an encore

All of that work culminated with the Mexican Pizza extravaganza. The songstress broke the news of Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza revival during a live performance at Coachella. Now, she will star in the Mexican Pizza Musical alongside Parton and TikTok creator Victor Kunda later this month.

Though Doja Cat was a leading voice in the calls for the return of Mexican Pizza, Taco Bell chief brand officer Sean Tresvant noted that it was a full chorus that led to bringing back the refried bean delight. Over 171,000 people signed a petition calling to save the Mexican Pizza on 

According to Tresvant, Gen Z can tell when creators are “just doing (deals) for the check.” That’s why the QSR curates partnerships with people who actually care about the brand. 

And this strategy has paid off. According to figures Deutsch LA shared with Adweek, Doja Cat’s Mexican Pizza announcement during Coachella drew 31.2 million impressions across all social platforms throughout that weekend with 79% positive sentiment toward the brand. Taco Bell’s mentions saw 136% growth week-over-week with nearly 46,000 posts mentioning Doja Cat and Mexican Pizza.

Why it works 

Taco Bell’s love-hate affair with Doja Cat reflects two diverging aspects of a trend across social media marketing: Consumers are tired of watching A-list celebrities stand in front of a ring light and drop their six-step skincare routines (or the fast food equivalent). They don’t want highly curated content. Consumers are looking for lo-fi, UGC-adjacentcontent that doesn’t let outdated brand safety policies get in the way of some playful self-deprecation. 

“It’s not even clear what part of this narrative is sponsored and what is just Doja Cat,” said Nate Jones, head of influencer marketing at JUV Consulting. 

Jones referenced the rapper’s TikTok leading up to the brand’s Super Bowl spot, in which she claims that she’s being “forced to make this video for Taco Bell.” Throughout the clip, she expresses utter disinterest and disgust with the brand. Naturally, Taco Bell leveraged Doja Cat’s rant as fodder to continue building the antihero narrative. 


Stop what you’re doing and get the new Cantina Crispy Chicken Tacos. Your boss will understand.

♬ original sound - tacobell

According to Jake Webb, president and co-founder of Slash MGMT, the QSR has fully embraced an internet culture defined by “nostalgia and trolling” through a campaign that champions rebellion. Taco Bell also has no intention this being a one-and-done campaign with Doja Cat. The intended longevity of this partnership speaks to the newfound effectiveness of brand deals that span beyond a one-off post.

“This is a true multifaceted partnership between celebrity and brand—from pushing music boundaries to bringing back beloved menu items—and you don’t see that very often,” said Gabe Gordon, managing partner and co-founder of Reach Agency. He conceded that integrated creator-brand relationships are often lost in an era of constant influencer marketing. 


♬ original sound - Doja Cat

Keeping the ‘cultural rebels‘

Tresvant believes today’s consumer wants “real” communication from brands and artists rather than something overly scripted. “As a brand, we have to be OK with that,” including allowing “Doja to be Doja,” he said. “Consumers can sniff that out in a minute. If our brand is about being authentic, real and celebrating different, we have to have that type of partnership with whoever we work with.”

While some marketers fear that experimenting with new strategies could cause them to lose sight of their brand purpose, Taco Bell has positioned itself as a catalyst for constant change, according to Tresvant. He referred to the QSR’s consumer base—which is primarily Gen Z—-as “cultural rebels.” In order to keep up with that demographic, staying static is never an option. 

“We are a brand that doesn’t stand still,” Tresvant said. “We keep on pushing it forward. And we’re excited about the future.”

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