In new ads that invite customers to go to its web site and check out the ingredients in its "signature recipe" beef taco filing, Taco Bell (YUM) appears to be making a wager that people won't actually follow its advice. Either that or the chain's marketing staff hasn't bothered to notice that its incomprehensibly technical ingredient list makes Taco Bell's menu look like one big food science experiment.
How else can we explain Taco Bell's otherwise incomprehensible decision to direct people to its web site, where they will learn more about the many, many weird artificial ingredients used in most of its products? The ads, which started running this week, are part of a swashbuckling counterattack Taco Bell has undertaken in response to a lawsuit filed in January alleging that its taco beef is only 34% beef, the rest being fillers and unfamiliar non-beef ingredients.
Taco Bell maintains that its taco filing is 88% actual beef, and to hammer home the point it's offering Crunchwrap Supremes this week for 88 cents.
Embracing propylparaben tortillas
I suppose there's also a third possible explanation for these ads. Maybe Taco Bell believes there are customers out there who will find it comforting to learn the restaurant uses silicon dioxide in its beef filing, propylene glycol alginate and blue 1 in its Avocado Ranch Dressing, the cancer-linked methylparaben and propylparaben in its corn tortillas and the cheap, versatile meat filler modified food starch in the Southwest Chicken.
I mean, thank goodness they're not using lighter fluid and arsenic.
As I've pointed out before, this full court press strategy, while admirable in its boldness, is a delusional approach to restoring brand value. The company's first round of counterattacks, which involved media appearances, led to Taco Bell's CEO Greg Creed being interviewed on Good Morning America and admitting he had no idea what exactly the "isolated oat product" in Taco Bell's beef is. "I'm not a food scientist. But what I can tell you is that every ingredient is in there for a purpose," he lamely told George Stephanopoulos.
The reality of modern food production is that food scientists are the only ones who know what's really going on. Most people have no idea what's being done to their food before they eat it, and the extent to which it's processed and filled with chemicals and additives. And it wouldn't seem to be in Taco Bell's interest to start illuminating them about this. Of course, perhaps Taco Bell executives think that the addition of weird chemicals you'd never use at home is a small price to pay for food that's dirt cheap. And maybe it is.
But don't try and pretend, as Creed does in this video, that it's just like the "seasoned beef" you put in your chili at home.
Image by Flickr user Coach O