I have to say I’m impressed with Taco Bell’s response to the lawsuit about their beef claims. I suspected from the beginning that this was another case of a publicity-seeking attorney and was happy to see Taco Bell responding aggressively by saying they would sue the lawyer for false accusations.
Taco Bell did more than this. They ran newspaper ads with the intriguing headline: “Thank you for suing us.” There is risk to this. They must be absolutely 100% accurate in their claims, here that their meat is 88% beef and 12% filler. They risk adding fuel to a fire. And they risk, as has already been happening, people asking the question why is your beef not 100% beef. Still, I think this is a terrific response.
I’ve long advocated that companies being attacked need to respond aggressively. This is based primarily on the premise that a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth. Reputation crises like these always revolve around credibility. The accuser has prima facia standing in making the accusation–particularly with the media who loves to repeat the accusation without feeling any compunction about determining any validity. It is their job to accurately report the accusation, not determine whether it is an outright lie.
But Taco Bell has done more than run ads thanking the attorney for drawing attention to their quality beef. They are also aggressively responding in the social media world, including a YouTube video which I think is spot on for messaging. As I right this, the views are up to 3500.
And according to Mashable, the company is very engaged on social media including talking with its 45,000 Twitter followers.
But the thing I like best is the headline: Thank you for suing us. I want to know if that attorney is wrong about the 35% beef claim, what are the consequences for her and her firm? Will the news media jump all over the false accusations when proven false in the same way they did major stories on the accusations before proven? I doubt it because attorneys like this one do the media a big favor–attacking them would be going after the goose laying those nice eggs. Even if they only contain 35% gold.