I was so very gratified to see the news today that the class action lawsuit filed by an Alabama law firm against Taco Bell regarding the contents of its meat has been dropped. The story in the news today does not give any indication of the real significance of this in my mind.
You may recall back in January the Alabama law firm made national headlines with the accusation that Taco Bell meat contained very little real meat. They were clearly trolling for a big class and the media complied happily. There were comments about this being another “where’s the beef” stories and Taco Bell was big time on the defensive.
I was thrilled when I saw their response. They came out swinging with a brilliant ad campaign and social media effort under the headline “Thank you for suing us.” They detailed the contents of their taco meat, explained the seasonings, etc. and soundly attacked the claims of the law firm calling them totally false. They had to be right or else this kind of strong counter attack would only bite them hard.
Apparently they were right because now the law suit has been dropped. The law firm has tried to claim some kind of victory saying they dropped the suit after Taco Bell made changes to their marketing and product disclosure. Taco Bell said, uh uh, no changes made. They just had to spend the money to point out that the lawyers were liars. So, now that being proved, am I going to believe their reasons for dropping the suit? Nope.
There are all kinds of lawsuits filed every day and many for very good legitimate reasons. But, IMHO, a lot of them are unnecessary and it is part of the American way of business to use our legal system to pressure companies, often for pure gain on the part of the lawyers. The tendency of companies has been to “make a business decision” and weigh the costs of fighting it, the bad publicity attendant to it, and negotiate. Thank God for Taco Bell. They showed a different way.
“Thank you for suing us” should be appearing on many corporate responses to bogus law suits in the future. How we can prevent the media from making a field day out of these bogus suits and presuming the accuser is innocent while the accused (a big business always it seems) is guilty as charged, well, that is another matter.
I would like to nominate Taco Bell for this year’s “Tylenol Successful Crisis Communications Award.”