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Taco Bell Aims For Brand Positivity as Lawsuit Is Dropped

  |  April 20, 2011   |  Comments

Meanwhile, the restaurant chain gets unexpected buzz out of the fact that today is a special day for pot smokers.

A Taco Bell campaign fueled by a lawsuit questioning the substance of its food helped the brand garner goodwill on Facebook, and now the fast-food chain hopes a follow-up campaign generates more positivity.

The company is running search ads in conjunction with a YouTube video, social media effort, and print ads to let consumers know a class-action suit against the company has been dropped. The suit claimed Taco Bell's seasoned beef was actually loaded with non-meat ingredients.

Now, Taco Bell aims to get the word out. Searches for "Taco Bell" on Google, Yahoo, and Bing result in an ad linking to the "Official Statement from the Company." The ads link to a press release on the Taco Bell site.

A YouTube video that had been viewed only a few hundred times when this story published is a talking head clip featuring the firm's CEO Greg Creed. In the brief video, he stresses that there was no settlement with the law firm that filed the suit, and that Taco Bell has not altered its products or ingredients.

"Plain and simple, their attorneys got it wrong and took it back," said Creed. The company is running promoted video ads on YouTube for the public relations message.

The company also made note of the dropped lawsuit on Facebook in a post linking to the press release, but kept its Twitter mentions of the campaign more conversational by retweeting posts from others. For instance, the @TacoBell account retweeted a post exclaiming, "Justice served! @TacoBell lawsuit dropped! Deliciousness wins again!"


Still, unlike the campaign Taco Bell launched in response to the lawsuit, this new effort seems less intent on facilitating social media buzz than on generating press coverage. After the lawsuit was filed, Taco Bell aimed to harness the media coverage around the case to build its Facebook presence. In February, the company offered a free taco to people who liked the brand on Facebook, and said it would give away as many as 10 million free taco coupons. Taco Bell added around 250,000 new likes by the end of the campaign a week later.

"Our strategy was to immediately communicate our message to quickly reach as broad an audience as possible," said Juliet Corsinita, senior director of media services for Taco Bell. "We chose a mix of traditional print advertising for its reach as well as search and social networks such as YouTube for audiences who are proactively seeking information about Taco Bell’s quality. In addition to paid media, we are taking a 360 approach, linking to company announcements and a YouTube video of our CEO on our Facebook page and Twitter feed, which directly reach our most passionate fans."

Meanwhile, Taco Bell is getting some unexpected buzz out of the fact that today is April 20 or 4/20. In pot smoking circles, the number 420 is synonymous with getting high, and evidently, some people equate marijuana munchies with eating Taco Bell. The fact that the brand promotes a late-night "Fourthmeal" only fuels the connection.

Several Taco Bell related tweets today featured a 4/20 theme. "Valentine's Day is to Hallmark what 4/20 is to @TacoBell," wrote one tweeter. Another suggested, "#4/20 has to be the busiest day of the year at #tacobell." The official @TacoBell Twitter account even acknowledged the day of cravings, retweeting a post declaring, "Happy 420 everyone!! #420."


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Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.

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