Taco Bell’s Christine is No Jared in Eyes of Bloggers

Discussion
Jan 07, 2010
George Anderson

By
George Anderson

The story of Jared and the weight loss he achieved eating a steady diet
of Subway turned the sandwich chain into a seemingly overnight success. Now,
Taco Bell is looking to go a similar route with a real life weight loss
story of a customer who dined on the chain’s Fresco menu to drop 54 pounds
over a two-year period. Unfortunately for the fast kinda-Mexican food chain,
people are not nearly as receptive to the story of Christine Dougherty as they
were to Jared’s.

Ms. Dougherty, who exercised regularly and reduced her daily
intake by 500 calories a day on her Taco Bell diet, tells consumers in
ads that, while her “results aren’t typical … they’re fantastic.”

AdAge.com reports
that Taco Bell has seen its image take a hit since launching what it calls
its Drive-Thru Diet Menu campaign. Zeta Buzz, which tracks online chatter,
said Taco Bell’s rating went from a positive of 73 percent to 67 percent while
commentary volume has jumped 44 percent. Taco Bell now trails Arby’s, Blimpie
and White Castle on the lower end of the approval scale.

“It seems like it’s
backfiring in a big way,” Al DiGuido,
CEO of Zeta Interactive, told Ad Age. “It seems like this execution
has people really confused and now folks are lobbying in their own way to have
it stopped.”

For its part, Taco Bell appears committed to the Drive-Thru
Diet Menu for the long haul.

“The Drive-Thru Diet Menu is true to our Mexican-inspired
heritage by offering real variety in form, flavors, taste, texture and the
aroma our customers love, while being lower in fat,” said David Ovens, chief
marketing officer of Taco Bell, in a press release.

Rob Poetsch, a spokesperson
for Taco Bell, told Ad Age, “Over
the years, we’ve heard stories from our customers who have lost weight by incorporating
Fresco into their meal choices, and Christine had written Taco Bell a letter
detailing her journey. Her story is a great example of how making better choices
can inspire many.”

Discussion
Question: Should Taco Bell stick with its Drive-Thru Diet Menu campaign
or is there something behind the negative reactions of bloggers and others
online?

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19 Comments on "Taco Bell’s Christine is No Jared in Eyes of Bloggers"


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Marc Gordon
Guest
Marc Gordon
11 years 4 months ago

Welcome to the world of social networking! Combine the ability of people around the world to share ideas and opinions with each other in minutes with an ever distrustful eye for corporate advertising and you can get a lethal mix.

Taco Bell should have taken the route of McDonald’s and offered healthy menu items without hyping them as tools towards weight loss.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
11 years 4 months ago

When one eats a daily diet of corn, meat and carbohydrate products and does it even with with careful-abandon, they aren’t really heading toward Diet Deity. The world is always wishing for the weight-loss sunrise and Subway and now Taco Bell are promoting that wish. But in spite of “The Story of Jared” one doubts if Taco Bell customers will be among America’s thinnest folks after two years of chowing down on TB’s Fresco menu…or will they?

Dick Seesel
Guest
11 years 4 months ago

Sorry, but fast-food Mexican cuisine and dieting don’t go hand-in-hand, in my opinion. The first time I saw the Taco Bell spot, my first reaction was, “How many low-cal items will the typical Taco Bell consumer buy in multiples in order to make a satisfying meal?” One of the first rules of good CRM is to encourage your top-tier customers to spend more money at your store (or, in this case, fast-food outlet). The “Taco Bell Diet” campaign takes the brand position in a totally discordant direction, no matter how much it was intended to reach a new audience.

Max Goldberg
Guest
11 years 4 months ago

I’m not sure that Taco Bell’s message will resonate with consumers. People don’t equate Taco Bell with eating fresh or weight loss. It’s too big a stretch.

For years Taco Bell has pushed large quantities of food at cheap prices to a predominately male audience. To suddenly change the message and the target demographic is a disconnect. Their old target audience is not interested in weight loss.

On the plus side…the thought of Taco Bell trying to convince people that their menu is healthy definitely made we want to see the commercial again.

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
11 years 4 months ago

Taco Bell is not getting their customers here–its about fun and QSR Mexican food. It’s good to have a choice for dieters at the drive through–keeps loyal customers in focus with these options. But hard for most to see Taco Bell as a destination for everyday diet meals!

Ben Ball
Guest
11 years 4 months ago

My first reaction to this campaign was “OMG that’s lame!” But we should at least consider that there are people who like to eat at Taco Bell, and there are people who want to lose weight who eat at Taco Bell. So the evaluation of this campaign comes down to the objective. If it is to drive trial of Taco Bell ala the Jarred campaign for Subway–forget it. If it’s to drive loyalty of existing customers–maybe. But we still have to wonder how much the advertising adds to the loyalty volume versus the turn-off of the painfully obvious “Jarred redux” execution.

David Livingston
Guest
11 years 4 months ago

First, there is no such thing as being in it for the long haul. Just ask Tiger Wood’s long-haul sponsors. Most people are not so foolish to believe you can lose weight by eating at Taco Bell or any other fast food outlet. Seems just about every fast food restaurant has tried to send the message that their food is healthy at one time or another. If there is too much embarrassing backlash, Taco Bell will drop the promotion. They should stick with the fact that it’s cheap and tastes good. At least they could back up those claims.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
11 years 4 months ago

Taco Bell has violated one of the cardinal rules of branding here–know your core customer and what they want and then communicate that you have that to them. The demos here are predominantly young males–not what you would call a diet-focused group. While you have to give them credit for trying to expand their customer base, the risk is that they will alienate their core customers without attracting new ones. The buzz on Social Media would appear to bear this out. As noted, McDonald’s and BK both introduced low-fat, low-cal items to their offering. They did not, however, make it their primary message.

Back to double tacos dripping with cheese, available after midnight.

Lee Peterson
Guest
11 years 4 months ago

I can’t imagine that research told them that they had “permission” to portray themselves as a place to get food to actually lose weight. However, you’d think that they do have permission to run a spoof of the Subway ads…unless that’s what they’re trying to do. Did I miss that joke?

Harvey Briggs
Guest
Harvey Briggs
11 years 4 months ago

I’m one of the many bloggers who slammed this campaign for what I think is good reason.

Robert Straub
Guest
Robert Straub
11 years 4 months ago

Do drunk and otherwise buzzed teens and young adults count calories at the Taco Bell drive-thru?

On the other hand, Christine does look a lot better than Jared. Maybe her story doesn’t resonate with Taco Bell costumers because she admits she had to actually exercise and eat right to lose weight.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
11 years 4 months ago

I’ll admit my first reaction to this campaign (really my only, as I’ve seen uno ad) was somewhat along the lines of “What? Upon further reflection, I switching that to “So What?”: unless your sole offering is deep-fried ice cream bars, every food purveyor offers something that is “healthy”–assuming of course you don’t eat too much of it–and I think anyone (TB included) is being remiss if they don’t point that out; if they can do it with humor and a gorgeous babe, so much the better. The customers for this aren’t going to supplant the 420 crowd, but they’re not meant to…they’re meant to complement it.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
11 years 4 months ago

Taco Bell and others have tries low-calorie foods on the menus in the past. I think they and other great fast-food brands should target their true audience who typically don’t care as much about these issues, and promote why they are so good in the first place: taste! Be proud of why you’re still in business in this crazy economy!

Arthur Rosenberg
Guest
Arthur Rosenberg
11 years 4 months ago

A news anchor for the late night/early morning national ABC news broadcast, Vinita Nair, ran this story and mentioned that she had lost significant weight prior to her wedding through such a plan. She’s a good anchor, seems bright and is attractive.

Mark Baum
Guest
Mark Baum
11 years 4 months ago

This is as misguided as the KFC as “health food: campaign. ‘Nuff said.

Mark Johnson
Guest
Mark Johnson
11 years 4 months ago

Taco Bell is VERY healthy food. I eat it everyday. πŸ™‚ Not sure of the efficacy of the program the way it works. The message is the same, moderation, portion control, and exercise is the key. You can find healthy food at most restaurants, the key is the size and the exercise that follows.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
11 years 4 months ago

I saw this commercial and my first thought was ‘Is this a joke?’ Taco Bell on a dieter’s menu? I honestly thought they were trying to be silly like Burger King but lo and behold, it’s for real. What’s next? KFC becomes the official food sponsor to the Olympics? This campaign is offensive to anyone who has common sense. In the words of Boomer from MNF Countdown: C’mon MAN!

Karen Gryson
Guest
Karen Gryson
11 years 4 months ago

Border Lights didn’t work the first time (12 years ago) because it alienated the core. And BL was actually menu items made with reduced fat/calorie ingredients which might credibly enable Taco Bell to be a part of a weight loss diet…but the reality is, people who are dieting and/or more health conscious are not heavy fast food users (pun not intended, but it works). Surprised that Taco Bell is trying this again. Not at all surprised that results are poor. My advice: embrace who you are. A lot of food for the money, focused on fillingness and taste for the frequent fast-food consumer.

Kai Clarke
Guest
11 years 4 months ago

Basing this story (and extending its potential impact to the real world) on the limited feedback from a few online websites is not the way to determine the success of a product, brand or strategy. The real key is to determine how sales of the “diet” products have done, compared to their costs and the opportunity costs of using other products instead of these. Chatter or online noise is just that, and its ability to reflect the feelings, desires and impact of true customers should only be measured at the register.

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