It sounds like a setup for a joke: Hey, did you hear the one about the high school swim champ who got Taco Bell to make him a customized Speedo?
It’s not a hoax, though — more of a lesson in the power of social media marketing and teenage chutzpah.
The week before Christmas, 15-year-old Ryan Klarner posted on Taco Bell’s Facebook page, introducing himself with a rundown of his swimming and diving achievements before making an offbeat request.
“[I]s there any way you guys could make me a customized Speedo that says think outside the buns on the back of it? If you did, that would mean the world to me,” the Illinois teen asked.
Taco Bell, a division of Yum! Brands, Inc., is quick to respond to gripes as well as kudos on its Facebook page. It also isn’t afraid to dive into the silly or the weird in the running conversation it has with its 9.5 million fans, but a request for a customized swimsuit was a new one, said Tressie Lieberman, director of digital and social engagement.
Klarner said he first came up with the idea a couple of years earlier and decided last month to go ahead and ask, even though he never had asked a company on Facebook for anything before. “I did not expect it to blow up as much as it has. I didn’t really expect to get the Speedo out of it, either,” he said.
But last Wednesday, the social media team at Taco Bell wrote back. “What size do you wear? And what’s your address?”
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