Taco Bell Fights Back in Social PR Battle

If you joined the rest of the world in cringing at the Domino’s Pizza social media PR disaster a couple of years back – Taco Bell seems to...

Taco Bell President

If you joined the rest of the world in cringing at the Domino’s Pizza social media PR disaster a couple of years back – Taco Bell seems to be pointing the way for large corporations in dealing with negative online buzz.

The company has come under fire for selling beef that’s only 88% beef. Now personally, I never imagine anything we eat in fast food chains is real food, but maybe I’m a cynic. In any event the company has come out fighting with a YouTube video from it’s President, plus positive posts on it’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Mashable reports that this has had negligible effects on the bad press they’re getting – but then, Mashable mentions Taco Bell’s 45k Twitter followers, and this morning they’ve got 51k – so they look to have signed up an extra 6,000 Twitter followers in the past 24 hours. Clearly, someone’s supporting them.

The key thing is – they’re making their case heard.  The very fact that Mashable has publicised about their CEO’s explanation means that half the blogosphere now knows there’s two sides to this story. I suspect we’ll see a mellowing of criticism as the story evens up and people realise (if they didn’t already know) that meat isn’t always 100% meat. And guess what? A few million more people will know about Taco Bell in a business in which familiarity with the brand is half the battle.

Looking back to the Toyota recall disaster in 2009/10, which many people thought could be the end for the Japanese car giant, some reports showed that their active response to the problem via social media actually led to a bounce in interest from buyers.  Simply by engaging – albeit against a tide of negative sentiment – they raised the profile of their vehicles and reminded buyers of their, usually, very high standards.

P.T Barnum once provided a great insight about all publicity being good publicity – and I guess there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be just as true for social media. Let’s watch this one and see.

NB – Join me at Social PR (London) on 28th Feb, where we’ll be discussing case studies like these and other real-time communications issues.  The conference will be live streamed online.

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  1. » Are You a Sizzling Taco or Going Down in Flames? Reply

    […] month Taco Bell had a social PR disaster. Rumours spread online that their meat wasn’t, in fact, 100% meat, but x% something else as well. […]

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