Our pioneering digital marketing chief gets creative with Taco John’s®

Posted Jul 6th, 2017

Taco John’s competition should be more than a little worried with our new digital expert in-house

Jimmy Orr, Director of Digital Strategy for Taco John’s, is at the head of the pack with the latest advances in the digital marketing world, figuring out better ways to connect with his target audience. That’s great news for our franchisees who want to continue to stand out and get ahead of Taco John’s competition.

Portrait of Jimmy Orr smiling
Jimmy Orr, Director of Digital Strategy for Taco John’s

Orr came to us with a pretty impressive resume. Some high points:

  1. He worked in digital communications for the White House under George W. Bush, and his team created the “Barney Cam” to document the exploits of the President’s dog.
  2. He handled the digital campaign for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial race in California.
  3. He managed his wife’s successful Cheyenne, WY, mayoral campaign last fall, almost exclusively using digital media to help her get elected.
  4. He headed the effort to transform the Los Angeles Times newspaper to a digital-first news operation.

Having a solid digital marketing strategy is more important than ever before. “People are gathering on the internet — on social media sites like Facebook or browsing online or on a mobile device. That’s where the big audience is,” Orr says. “So if you can target that audience where they’re going online and show up there, that’s where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck.”

Ahead of the trends

When Orr joined the Bush White House as digital director in January 2001, Facebook hadn’t yet been invented, Twitter was a long way off and the really cool tech crowd were using Blackberrys. Orr’s challenge was to update the staid, static White House website to create buzz and help humanize the President and his administration. After that year’s tragedy on Sept. 11, the White House shut down to the public, and the disconnect seemed bigger than ever.

Then Orr and his team came up with an idea: They would post a video tour of the White House at Christmas via the perspective of Barney, the President’s dog. “We put it up and it exploded,” Orr says. All the networks picked it up, and there were 2 million downloads in the first week.d

His work with the White House caught the attention of Maria Shriver, whose husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was preparing to launch a gubernatorial campaign in California. So Orr joined them and established Schwarzenegger as the first elected official to do live question-and-answer sessions online. “You couldn’t just pull out an iPhone and start filming back then. We had a professional film crew and a portable satellite,” Orr says.

“He was the first to do it, and it just made sense. He’s a superstar in front of the camera. Why do we do it? We do it to create an emotional experience between the elected official and the citizens.”

When Orr and his wife, Marian, decided to make Cheyenne, WY, their permanent home together, he got a chance to test his digital savvy again when he discovered his wife had decided to run for mayor.

With Marian, a virtual unknown, running against four well-known candidates, the Orrs took the campaign online. With an ad budget involving about 90% digital and 10% traditional, they used video and social media to launch Marian to a first-place win in the primary and a double-digit victory in the general election. She took office in January.

An overhead shot of two hands on a laptop keyboard, with a blue pen resting on a notebook paper on the left and a wrapped burrito and some Potato Olés® on the right.
Online, everyone is competing for attention. We’re working on a strong digital strategy to help break through the clutter and draw more fans to Taco John’s.

What’s next for Taco John’s

To Orr, Taco John’s guests are akin to voters. “Let’s meet our customers where they are,” he says. “Everyone is online. The latest stats from Pew Research Center indicate that 90% of the American public is online, and 76% of them are on Facebook.”

That’s why Taco John’s is looking at a comprehensive approach to digital marketing. Orr and his team will be building on successes like the TJ® Rewards app and our social media presence to come up with new and innovative ways to connect with Taco John’s fans. We’re already unique among Mexican restaurant franchises with our cult-like following. Now we’re broadening that appeal.

“The goal here is twofold: One, we want to improve our return on investment for franchisees, so whatever we do, we want to see more foot traffic. Two, we want to create a buzz. We want to be in the news cycle. We want people talking about us. That’s the fun part of the job, and the challenging part of the job,” Orr says.

“We know what our brand stands for. Now we’ve got to break through the clutter.”

Learn more about Taco John’s

In terms of Taco John’s competition, we have only one true nationwide competitor in the fast-food space. We’re creating opportunities in new markets and actively seeking franchisees to grow with us, knowing that they can count on support from Orr and other experienced members of our franchise support team.

If you’d like to learn more, please fill out the form on this page to download our free franchise report and start a conversation. You can also learn more about the opportunity by exploring our in-depth research pages.