Here’s The Beef

30 01 2011

One sobering reality of communications is that good news travels on the back of a snail. And bad news is in the passenger seat of a Ferrari. No matter how early Mr. Good leaves, Mr. Bad will win the race. Because there’s no speed limit on the information highway.

It’s bad enough we have always-on news channels to help Mr. Bad speed down the road. Toss in social media, and you have reckless endangerment of whoever the news is about.

Like last week’s lawsuit against Taco Bell alleging the fast food chain inaccurately portrays some of its products as containing beef. The media tore through this like vultures at a roadkill. But then it went social, and suddenly everyone was sharing the blurb among their Facebook and Twitter friends.

So what’s an unlucky recipient of bad news to do? Find another Ferrari, that’s what. Fight fire with fire. Or use the same social graph to try to right what they think is wrong.

And that is exactly what Taco Bell has done.

Greg Creed, President of Taco Bell, now appears in a quick-response video posted on Taco Bell’s new YouTube channel (click the image above to launch). They have also used their Facebook fan page to try to set the record straight with their 5 million plus followers.

Hey, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

It kind of goes without saying that fast food joints are going to come under scrutiny from time to time. Cheap food means cheap ingredients. You can’t expect chunks of fillet mignon in your burrito when it only costs 99 cents. But, as Taco Bell argues, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your burrito is chock full of fillers, extruders, and other such non-beef products.

What Taco Bell has done (and in stunningly quick order, I praise) is little different from how BP leveraged YouTube and Google last summer. BP purchased keywords at Google so that people searching on “Gulf oil spill” would find a link to BP’s YouTube channel in the first position. That channel, of course, contained videos explaining BP’s stance on the disaster. Regarless of what you think of BP, their use of social and search media was genius.

And so is Taco Bell’s

I’ll let Taco Bell’s lawyers figure out how to defend themselves in court if this lawsuit progresses. I am not a big fast food fan anyway, so I haven’t yet shed any years. But I will say that TB’s utilization of social media was spot-on. Burritoful. Tacorrific. Nacho ordinary sleepy response.

Make that order to-go.

Dr “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” Gerlich



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