Best Job Ever: Taco Bell Brand Partnerships
Do you watch sports or play videos games? Maybe you’re a music fanatic? Well, there’s a job at Taco Bell that involves all of these (and of course, tacos). Meet our Director of Brand Partnerships and Sponsorships, Will Bortz. He oversees everything from the Live Más Student Section at the College Football Playoffs to our music program Feed the Beat to special edition Taco Bell Xboxes. He’s the man behind these amazing programs that make us uniquely Taco Bell.
We sat down with Will to learn more about him and how he landed one of the Best Jobs Ever at Taco Bell Corporate.
Question: How would you describe your job as Director of Brand Partnerships & Sponsorships?
Will Bortz: I handle strategic planning, negotiation, and execution of all brand partnerships, sponsorships, and promotions for Taco Bell. In my position, I am responsible for Taco Bell’s sports marketing relationships with the College Football Playoff, National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball, leading sponsorship integration with media partners ESPN, Fox, Turner, MTV, iHeartRadio, various gaming and promotional initiatives with Xbox, Sony PlayStation, and Blizzard as well as our music program Feed the Beat.
Q: What did you study in school?
WB: I have a Bachelors in History from the University of Colorado Boulder, but also studied psychology, philosophy, communications.
Q: What kind of job experiences did you have prior to Taco Bell and how did you come into your role?
WB: Prior to joining Taco Bell, I worked at an agency where I was Vice President in charge of Sports, Automotive and Lifestyle Marketing as well as branding initiatives. In 2005, I was recruited to come to Taco Bell and have worked with both the Media and Brand Experience teams. Then in 2008, the brand enabled me to create my own position which combines elements of creativity and negotiation.
Q: What does a typical workday at Taco Bell look like for you?
WB: Anything but typical. I may be focused on sports one day and music the next. I’m able to explore new ideas, challenge the status quo and make each day unique into itself. No one day seems to be the same.
Q: What have you helped create at Taco Bell?
WB: At Taco Bell, I created integrated marketing programs including the Live Más Student Section at the College Football Playoff, Steal A Game, Steal A Taco during the NBA Finals, and Steal A Base, Steal A Taco held at MLB’s World Series. I’ve also created Taco Bell’s music program called Feed the Beat that helps new music be heard and connect up-and-coming artists with fans. A few years ago, I led the team who crafted the Live Más Scholarship for the Taco Bell Foundation which awards scholarships to students who are innovators, creators, and dreamers seeking to pursue their passions.
Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?
WB: We are constantly innovating, evolving and pushing against the status quo. At times, a difficult task has been getting our outside partners to see the need for change when they are doing well and may not have the same unique needs. Convincing them to act on it is frequently the most challenging aspect of my job. But when you find those like-minded groups who want to create something that’s never been done before, it’s an amazing reward.
Q: Out of all the projects you’ve worked on at Taco Bell, which one has been your favorite?
WB: I would say the Steal A Base, Steal A Taco program because we’ve woven ourselves into the fabric of baseball and it has become an exciting point everyone looks forward to during the World Series.
Q: How do you stay true to the Taco Bell brand while being innovative when working with a new property?
WB: If somebody else can do it, that means it's not unique to us. The challenge with the sponsorship environment is that at times it’s, “your logo goes here” and then your brand is brought up alongside the sport. However, our desire is to be integrated into the sport or property we’re involved with so that Taco Bell can elevate the experience for the fan overall and make it feel uniquely us.
Q: What are you working on now at Taco Bell?
WB: We are just concluding a major extension of our Live Mas Student Section platform, building it into a season-long initiative for Taco Bell. I’m also looking for our next groundbreaking gaming partnership.
Q: What advice can you give to anyone with an interest in working in the partnerships industry?
WB: Be well versed in human nature and what people like and dislike because that's a unique way to find a program for your brand. Get as much experience as you can across a variety of sports leagues, teams, and agencies because diverse knowledge can lead you to breakthrough thinking. And lastly, be up to date on current trends and always have an opinion on them.
Q: Why is your job the best job ever?
WB: Because I love what I do and if you love what you do, the challenges become easier to overcome and successes become that much sweeter.
If you’re interested in a career at Taco Bell and working with people like Will, click here to explore current job openings and apply.