If you haven’t heard, the claims are its beef is barely beef at all. An Alabama law firm says only 36% of Taco bell beef is actually beef. The other 64% is just stuff that looks like beef.
It’s always interesting to see how corporations respond to these types of situations. Here’s how Taco Bell fought back. Also check out Taco Bell’s own ad here. Its president, Greg Creed, said the lawyers got their facts wrong. He said Taco Bell’s beef contains “88% quality USDA-inspected beef … ” and he is taking this attack very seriously and plans to “take legal action against them for making false statements.”
Let’s analyze this from a crisis management point of view:
There are two options here: Either Taco Bell is wrong or the Alabama law firm is wrong. Regardless, there needs to be some repair done to Taco Bell’s image. Creed didn’t help that image, either.
If Creed was right, instead of starting a fight and acting like a spoiled toddler, he should have appealed to his loyal customers.
Crisis management 101 says the response needs to be about the victims, in this case: people who have ever eaten Taco Bell food. Creed could have assured his customers that the meat is actually 88% beef, and then announced plans to upgrade the beef somehow anyway, and give his commitment to providing quality food. Then it would have turned the focus on a better product by Taco Bell instead of some 3rd-grader-like fight between grown adults. Then Creed might have even gained customers and improved the restaurant’s overall image.
Now, if the Alabama law firm was right, that’s a completely different story.
In today’s day, nothing is private. You have to be completely transparent. Taco Bell should have immediately admitted to its poor-quality meat and apologized. Then Creed should have announced plans to better it. Taco Bell could follow Domino’s Pizza’s lead. Domino’s changed their entire pizza and talked about listening to the consumer, changing its sauce, toppings and crust. It had commercials about going to the farms where it grows fresh tomatoes, etc.
In the short term, admitting they used crappy meat might hurt Taco Bell. However, it would also have established a sense of trust among the public and benefit the company in the long run. If we all find out that Taco Bell really does have bad meat, especially after Creed threw punches, it will be almost impossible for the public to trust anything that comes from Taco Bell.