The story that grabbed my attention last week was Taco Bell's class action lawsuit challenging the actual beef content in the chain's beef tacos. Taco Bell responded with what appeared to be an example of public relations crisis management at its best, but with one major flaw: in rebutting the lawsuit, Taco Bell appears to have trashed its product.
The false advertising lawsuit claims that the "seasoned ground beef" in Taco Bell's crunchy taco, beefy ground burrito and other products doesn't actually meet the minimum requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be labeled as "beef." Taco Bell responded quickly with its "thank you for suing us" ads stating that the filling was indeed beef with added seasonings.
Taco Bell's response strategy seems to have been somewhat hastily designed. Having served my time in the darkened corridors of corporate America I can hazard a guess at the mayhem following the issue of the lawsuit: lawyers and directors running around trying to protect the brand at all costs. So a statement is crafted and issued in defense of the brand. But there seems to have been an oversight; this statement openly reveals a lack of quality and taste in the brand's raw ingredients.
Taco Bell agrees that its "seasoned ground beef" is not 100% meat and that other ingredients are added. In a clever trick to protect the brand the company states, "The only reason we add anything to our beef is to give the meat flavor and quality. Otherwise we'd end up with nothing more than the bland flavor of ground beef..." OK, I think we had all realized that the ingredients in your average beef burrito weren't the best. How could they be? There are menu items at Taco Bell for 99 cents. That's certainly not the price for prime grassfed steak - and according to the allegations in the court documents, that isn't even a price for basic beef.