Taco Bell Turns To PPC

    December 19, 2006

It’s fairly obvious that the press from an E.Coli breakout can be really bad, especially if you are a popular fast-food restaurant chain – just ask Taco Bell. To combat the negative press, Taco Bell released a commercial featuring their President apologizing for the events while declaring Taco Bell food edible.

In case you missed it, an e.coli outbreak in the Northeast of United States, most likely the result of tainted lettuce, left a reported 71 Taco Bell customers ill. Obviously, these events are what led to the current Taco Bell campaign.

In order to provide additional support, Taco Bell turned some of their attention to search advertising, targeting their brand name and running ads that navigate interested parties to this page – The Taco Bell press page featuring the release addressing the situation and the Centers for Disease Control’s “all clear” announcement.

Of course, they also remind visitors to “Think Outside the Bun” (developing a brand is important, regardless of the situation).

A link to the video of the CEO’s announcement can also be found at this page. However, one blogger in particular asked whether or not Taco Bell’s PPC campaign was effective and decided to scrutinize it for future emergency response purposes. The blogger I am speaking of is Graywolf and he thinks while the effort is commendable, Taco Bell nevertheless missed the boat on this one:

Firstly kudos to TacoBell.com for buying adwords. Even better to put up a section in the latest news area of their website with a letter and video from the president of the company addressing the issue. They get a big fat F for trapping it behind a flash application making it impossible for me to link to it (see Why Advertisers Love Flash and Ajax, and Why it’s Really Stupid). They also get an F for not uploading it to You Tube.

Online video is not the only social media mentioned in the write-up. Taco Bell’s lack of a blog, something that’s imperative during a viral situation – good or bad, is discussed as well. A well-maintained blog, regardless of how hard it’s going to be hit with initial negative comments, is a great tool to address situations like these and to perhaps influence the viral message being spread about your company.

However, we shouldn’t discount the fact a company the size of Taco Bell did try to leverage the search engine industry when it came to presenting their side of the story. This just reinforces the idea of search as a marketing juggernaut, even if you can’t remember the text ad you clicked to get to your destination.

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Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.