Taco Bell Lawsuit: Why Taco Bell Can Say ‘Thank You For Suing Us’

Posted on February 10, 2011
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The Taco Bell Lawsuit

Chances are that you’ve heard of the recent Taco Bell lawsuit. In January 2011, the fast food giant faced a class action law suit based on the quality of their beef. The suit claims that lab tests reported a real beef content of only 35% in Taco Bell’s taco filling, which is below USDA standards.

The Ad Campaign

Taco Bell responded with an ad campaign themed, “Thank You For Suing Us,” contending that in fact their beef taco filling is 88% beef and 12% “special recipe.” Taco Bell printed full page ads in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today, pointing out exactly what else goes into their seasoned beef taco filling. Apparently one of the main offenders is an “isolated oat product,” which can help add moisture and enhance flavor. But nutrition experts say that this kind of additive is no different than what one would find in other processed meats at the supermarket.

There are concerns that the lawsuit could get land Taco Bell in hot water, and end up hurting their brand in the long run. But,  experienced attorneys on the case seem to say that Taco Bell looks to have the lead on this one. The fact that Taco Bell serves 35 million people every week means it would take a huge blow to truly impact their overall business.

The Facebook Giveaway

Still, Taco Bell did not stop with the ads in the papers. They have since jumped full force into a social media campaign to appeal to their Facebook “likers,” as we’ll call them, and generate greater business from already loyal customers. Whenever someone clicks the “like” button on Taco Bell’s Facebook page, they are rewarded with a message that reads: “Facebook Fans, thanks so much for your support. You rock. Enjoy a free Crunchy Taco on us.” And then a coupon for a free Crunchy Taco appears for printing. According to web experts and analysts, this is  actually a very creative and tech-savvy move for Taco Bell. They are pushing past the lawsuit and instead rewarding supportive customers, all the while generating more positive brand awareness.

The Cost of Maintaining Trust

You have to hand it to them, in a way. Taco Bell is doing this, to be sure, to save themselves, but they are doing it in a way that makes them seem pretty credible. And, they are spending quite a bit of money to do it. According to the Huffington Post, ads like the ones they placed in those top papers can cost upwards of $100,000.00! And giving away 99 cent burritos to countless Facebook fans could equate to an online campaign valued at $9.9 million (Source).

The Power of Marketing

The interesting thing here is how a major chain like Taco Bell is using both tried and true marketing techniques, like print advertising, and new forms of media and social media, like Facebook promotions, to counteract a lawsuit and further promote the legitimacy and quality of their brand. They even posted a video on their Facebook page with their CEO telling it to us straight, and giving us a list of all the ingredients. Taco Bell is putting it all out there to make their customers trust their product and their brand. And yet, odd as it may seem, they aren’t spending too much time dwelling on the subject. They’ve begun promoting their next big seller: the Quad Steak Burrito—which takes the main stage on their Facebook page as the “profile image,” and has already begun appearing in commercials across the country. I’m sure we can count on this burrito to be at least 88% beef product, too!

FSW Staff FSW Staff (139 Posts)

The writing team at FoodServiceWarehouse is dedicated to bringing you the freshest tips, tricks and trends for your professional or home kitchen.

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