Earlier this year, an Alabama law firm filed suit against Taco Bell claiming that the fast food chain misleads customers when it uses the words “ground beef” in its advertising. The story made headlines (and spawned plenty of terrible puns) for a few days . . .
And then, the conversation changed.
Taco Bell launched an aggressive social media campaign and boldly announced that it was “setting the record straight.”
As part of its online campaign, the company:
- Released a YouTube video featuring Taco Bell President Greg Creed talking about the company’s seasoned beef recipe.
- Ramped up its online presence –at Twitter, Facebook and the Taco Bell website –to promote the YouTube video and provide consumers with other information regarding the company’s “beef truths.”
In addition, Taco Bell placed full page ads in national publications, including Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today, as well as in local market newspapers, including Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, San Diego Tribune, and San Francisco Chronicle.
The advertising copy opened with this simple, but powerful, statement: “Thank you for suing us.”
Did this integrated –and quite assertive –strategy work?
Yes, it did, according to an article this week at DestinationCRM.com. In fact, Taco Bell’s approach is likely to become a valuable case study to help companies learn how they can now blend on- and off-line channels to mitigate the effects of negative press.
In the article, author Koa Beck points that Taco Bell’s social media initiative turned out to be a key factor in the company’s ability to control its own story, and Edwin Thompson, director of demand generation at the Pedowitz Group, praises both the company’s efforts and approach. Taco Bell wanted to tell its side of the story, he says, and so the fast food giant literally “took over the conversation online,” using social networks, particularly Facebook, “brilliantly.”
As I have posted about before, companies can turn unhappy customers into brand advocates –if the companies listen and proactively respond with accurate and consistent information.