Can a catchy headline help bring back your brand’s reputation?

Taco Bell recently launched an advertising campaign to fight back against a lawsuit charging that its taco filling wasn’t beef. They were accused of using a meat mixture in their burritos and tacos which they claimed contained binders and extenders. They also claimed that they weren’t meeting requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Taco Bell placed full-page print ads in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times and other papers as well as online ads. The ad grabs your attention with a big sarcastic headline. “Thank you for suing us” it reads. They took this seemingly brand-damaging lawsuit and spun it to better themselves. The reality is that Taco Bell DOES use real beef. And therefore, jumped at the opportunity to prove it.

It was an interesting approach. The headline certainly stands out. It makes you wonder two things. If they hadn’t responded and, instead, did their best to keep the lid on these accusations, would people have noticed? Large corporations are sued all the time. Mice, it seems, are found in almost every food preparation company out there! And second, will the costs involved in this campaign drive up revenue?

Maybe. Taco Bell has a reputation. And I leave it to you to determine what that reputation is. Yes, we know now that they use real meat from real cows, but is that enough to make you think Taco Bell is high quality stuff?

Is there a right way to respond to bad publicity? Do you fight out the fire right away? Or not bring attention to it–hoping the wind will take care of it itself?

Authors: Marina Kaljaj and Eric Swenson

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