In late January, I began following the Taco Bell controversy and the lawsuit that against them for their alleged dishonesty about the contents of their taco meat. Now, with the rumors flying and legal action against them in full swing, Taco Bell trying to capitalize on the controversy.
How Taco Bell is Milking the Situation
When I visited the Taco Bell website earlier this week, I found an posted on the front page which read:
This week we’re all about 88.
Our Seasoned Beef is made with 88% premium beef and 12% signature recipe. Grab an 88¢ Crunchwrap Supreme®th!
Limit 2 per person. for a limited time. Offer ends March 5.
Made with real beef, Quality guaranteed.
There’s been a lot of talk about our seasoned beef. Get the full story.
Taco Bell will tell you the full story — but it’s the one they want to hear.
What Taco Bell won’t say is what’s in their Taco Meat Filling. They talk plenty about their “seasoned beef” — which may or not be the same as the Taco Meat Filling that was featured in a news story about the case on Gizmodo.com.
Taco Bell officials have persistently referred to their “seasoned beef” when publicly contesting the charges. This illustrates one way that a company can deliberately give the impression that they are answering a certain question, but really, they’re responding to a question you didn’t ask. (For example–answering questions about “seasoned beef” contents when the question is about their “taco meat filling.”) This is the kind of response you’d expect from a company that has something to hide.
So Taco Bell has taken this lawsuit–which claims that less than 35 percent of Taco Bell’s taco meat is actually beef–and uses their response to create a marketing ploy. “We’re all about 88,” Taco Bell claims. According to the restaurant, their seasoned ground beef is 88 percent beef–more than 50 percent higher than the lawsuit claims–so Taco Bell is offering their Crunchwrap Supreme for 88 cents. Taco Bell would clearly prefer that customers remember the number 88 — not 35 — so they’re using this promotion to help them attain their goal.
I’m somewhat annoyed by this tactic, even though I know that it’s a smart from a business perspective. What’s most bothersome is that I’m not convinced Taco Bell is being truthful in their statements about their ground beef, based on all the wordplay.
I’m not a suspicious person, but having a Bachelor’s degree and substantial experience in advertising, I have a good sense for a “spin” when I ear it. Maybe Taco Bell actually is talking about their Taco Meat Filling when they refer to their “seasoned beef.” But if this is the case, why don’t they come out and say so? Either they’re intent on having things their way and referring to the beef in the way they want customers to think of it, or seasoned beef is not the same as Taco Meet Filling. Whatever the case, Taco Bill’s customers deserve to know what they’re paying for–and what they’re putting into their bodies. Taco Bell customers deserve to know the truth. I’ll be interested to hear the findings of the lawsuit when the case finally comes to a close.