Friday, January 15, 2010

The Taco Bell Diet?

While it seems a bit like an oxymoron to me, it is, in fact Taco Bell's new ad campaign. I remember seeing one of the ads a few weeks ago and thinking the fast food company was almost making fun of itself and by parading a woman, Christine Dougherty, around as this Subway's Jared-like success case in losing weight on the Taco Bell diet. There's nothing wrong with this, it's awesome that Christine lost the weight, and I can understand why Taco Bell would want to showcase her the way Subway showcased Jared, but it doesn't quite fit.

Initially your intuition and the years of learning that fast food is pretty much bad for you. Yes, Taco Bell has healthier menu options, like all the fast food chains do now, but still, how much healthier are they really? In this article from one of my favorite recipe websites, where the recipes from Cooking Light are housed, they discuss the healthfulness of the items on Taco Bell's Fresco menu and sum up that a consistent diet from them will probably leave you lacking calcium and fiber. Plus all of these items are high in sodium like much processed food, and while that's not necessarily going to keep you from slimming down, it may push your blood pressure up.

My bigger issue with spot is it's tone though. Whether Taco Bell's Fresco menu or not doesn't make a shred of difference in when the creative's bad. The commercial doesn't even seem to take itself seriously. It has a cheesy, goofy, infomercial style which I'm sure was intentional, they even have an infomercial for it. It makes it a little hard to tell if Taco Bell is really pushing this as a diet. Of course they have disclaimers like crazy about how Christine's story is not typical, but the treatment in the ad seems to walk that fine line where most people laugh it off as stupid, while a few gullible others think this might actually work. The issue I see here is Taco Bell has managed to partially lump it's brand in with the questionable diet pill companies of the world. Maybe that's a bit of a stretch, but I see this ad targeting the same kind of customers, especially when they're even marketing it as a Drive-thru diet—no exercise necessary. Sound familiar?

What do you think?


BB said...

The weird/sad thing is, as irritated as I am about the whole "diet" campaign, when I was trying to think of an alternative to some expensive healthy lunch today, I wound up thinking of/going to Taco Bell for their Fresco menu. I have a weakness for Taco Bell anyway, so their campaign implanting the thought of light and healthy in my mind definitely worked - even if I don't really believe it. Gotta hand it to them. And gotta bring my lunch.

postcollegecook said...

I had an initial reaction of laughter when I first saw the commercial. It's like, seriously? Drive-thru diet?

But as BB demonstrated above, it puts T-Bell on our radars as somewhere where we can find cheap and relatively healthy fast food. And the fact that the ad seems so outrageous (and poorly executed) just makes us all talk about even more, further embedding it in our minds. I'd say they did a pretty good job of quickly spreading the word that they have healthier options on their menu.

Christine said...

@postcollegecook That is true. At the very least this campaign has managed to get the word out that Taco Bell has 'healthier' options on it's menu. Even to people like me who never eat there.

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