Taco Bell Takes "Meat" Off the Menu In Weird PR Move

Taco Bell’s marketing strategy has taken a brave new turn as the company has announced that it will be introducing a new “power protein” filling in tacos to replace "meat." Actually, it's still meat, but recent public relations research has indicated an uptick in the negative connotations associated with the word "meat." According to Bloomberg Business Week, the new item will have over 20 grams of protein while containing less than 450 calories.

In the past Taco Bell marketed a healthier “fresco” menu that attempted to cater to the health conscious populace. The campaign was fairly successful, but its major flaw was that its appeal was limited women. Taco Bell hopes that the “power protein” movement will broaden its menu to everyone seeking a nutritious meal at a fast food restaurant.

Taco Bell is a chain well aware of its place in the fast food market. The company markets actively through Facebook and Twitter, but it doesn’t find traditional ways to attract customers. It youthfully infuses the posts to include quirky and fun content about the food. Basically, the company realizes that huge portions of their devoted clientele are drunken college students craving late night quesadillas. Therefore, marketing campaigns like the Dorito Loco Tacos, Live Mas, and Mountain Dew Baja Blast were created to promote an easy going and flamboyant type of image.

In 2010, Taco Bell introduced its run for weight loss and healthy living with its “fresco” campaign. According to the company, the spokesperson for the campaign Christine Dougherty, lost 54 lbs eating off the “fresco” menu. The campaign ran successfully until recently when reports of horse meat and pink slime hit the company hard.

So is the “power protein” a response to the recent Taco Bell PR hits (especially the tongue on the shells incident)? The specific wording and campaign goes great lengths to avoid the word “meat” and strays away from anything that would remind customers of the company’s previous blunders. The move to “protein” is a smart move and another example of Taco Bell understanding their target 16-25 age demographic. In an age where exercise and gyms are in, Taco Bell has taken advantage of this fad by replacing a power bar with a “power protein” taco.  Although Taco Bell has been subject to massive PR hits over the past couple of months, its products don’t really cater to a hypersensitive market, ultimately leading to unchanged sales. 

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John Mathew

Hello, I'm a 2nd year at the University of Virginia studying politics and Economics. I love discussing policy and developmental economics with just about anyone with an opinion on the subject. Apart from academic interests, you can ask me anything about basketball (especially the NY Knicks!), running, and super smash brothers, I love them all. Feel free to contact me with any questions about my work!

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