- Taco Bell is sponsoring Bleacher Report's House of Highlights, an Instagram account that focuses on professional basketball, Ad Age reported. The fast food chain's branded posts will appear on Thursday nights on the account's Stories, the Instagram feature that strings together photos and videos in a single disappearing post.
- The branded posts will urge fans to participate in contests or interact with the account, which has 12.6 million followers. Each story will feature giveaways, including free tacos for a year for the fan who correctly predicts the final score of a particular NBA game.
- The Taco Bell sponsorship kicked off on April 25 and will run through the end of the NBA Summer League in mid-July. Bleacher Report is pursuing similar sponsor partnerships with other brands, Brian Kelly, senior VP of ad sales at the company, told Ad Age.
Taco Bell's sponsorship of the House of Highlights account on Instagram is another sign of how brands are working to reach audience who have shifted their viewing habits toward mobile and social platforms. House of Highlights collects clips of humorous NBA player reactions and post-game interviews that may appeal to a broad audience.
The fast food chain's customers are more likely to be under the age of 34 and supporting Taco Bell's peak sales hours in the evenings, according to InfoScout. That makes a Thursday night sponsorship of House of Highlights a potentially ideal time for Taco Bell to reach its core audience of mobile-equipped young adults.
Taco Bell is the first brand to sponsor House of Highlights on Instagram on a weekly basis, although the account has previously received sponsorship from Yahoo, Foot Locker, Pizza Hut, Nike and Air Jordan. McDonald's sponsors the House of Highlights weekly Twitter show that features interviews with celebrities and top athletes. Taco Bell this year partnered with T-Mobile on a "Taco Tuesdays" promotion that led to record high in daily hourly digital transactions, pointing to why Taco Bell is working to extend this type of partnership.
Meanwhile, the Stories format has become a major revenue generator for Instagram. Stories Ads grew to 3 million advertisers on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger in Q1 from 2 million in the prior quarter. About half a billion view Stories on Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp every day, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during an earnings call this week. The company began pushing Stories Ads last year to reignite ad growth on its platforms, and businesses are now increasingly using Interactive Stories Ads to engage with mobile-savvy customers in fresh ways.