Where?s the Beef Lawsuit Brings Out the PR Guns

Taco Bell Using Ads to Battle Back on Beef (MSNBC)

What do marketers do when their company is under attack for its marketing decisions?? Some may take the approach that the best way to handle things is to diffuse the situation quickly by working hard to address the issues being raised.? With this approach, the marketer will often make concessions to those who are screaming the loudest.

For instance, a marketer may remove an advertisement that a certain group feels is offensive.? While the marketer may not really believe it is necessary to do so, the potential negative backlash that may arise if the ad is not removed may be viewed as too risky.

However, seeking to diffuse a potentially troublesome situation is not the only approach when a company is facing criticism.? In fact, the opposite approach may be taken as some companies will respond with a public relations blitz defending their decisions.? This aggressive strategy can be quite effective if the company already has significant support in the market.? On the other hand, an offensive stance can draw the attention of the media and Internet bloggers, which could heighten and prolong the controversy.

A company facing such a PR issue is Taco Bell.? The fast-food retailer is being slapped with a class-action lawsuit claiming it?s tacos do not contain enough beef to be classified as a beef sandwich.? In particular, the suit argues Taco Bell is engaging in false advertising by saying the product contains ?seasoned ground beef? which the plaintiffs claim does not meet standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

But Taco Bell is not taking these charges lightly and has responded with an all-out PR campaign including the placement of full-page ads in major U.S.newspapers explaining exactly what is in their tacos.? And as the included YouTube video shows, the strength of arguments on both sides of this issue suggests this could go on for some time.

The print ads say, in huge letters, “Thank you for suing us. Here’s the truth about our seasoned beef.” They go on to outline the meat’s ingredients. The chain did not say how much it is spending on the campaign, but such ads in national newspapers can cost more than $100,000.

Is it possible both sides are correct?