“Hooooold me now. It’s hard for me to say I’m sorry. I just want you to stay (as a defendant).” - Chicago
Yesterday, Taco Bell leveled a smackdown of epic proportions through an open letter to opposing counsel in a class action suit. It was witty, in-your-face and broadcast through newspapers across the land. The full page ads began with a giant-fonted question: “WOULD IT KILL YOU TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY?”
(I highly encourage you to read the full ad here, it’s a riot.)
Alabama plaintiffs’ law firm Beasley Allen recently decided to run for the border and withdraw the class action suit against Taco Bell that alleged the company was using bad meat products and false advertising. In response, Taco Bell has brazenly demanded an apology and pointed out that this case has ended with:
“No changes to our (Taco Bell) products or ingredients. No changes to our advertising. No money exchanged. No settlement agreement.”
The ad concludes with a final poke at the attorneys: “You got it wrong, and you’re probably feeling pretty bad right now. But you know what always helps? Saying to everyone, ‘I’m sorry.’ C’mon, you can do it!”
Taco Bell claims that the lawsuit had no merit and cost the company millions in legal fees and lost revenue. While this ad is an excellent way to get the “safe tacos” announcement out (e.g., I’m writing a blog about Taco Bell’s trustworthy meat), I wonder if there is a secondary goal: fewer future lawsuits.
This ad was clearly designed to send a message, but it never specifically mentions Beasley Allen. One reason could be to avoid any claims of reputation damage by the law firm, but I think there was also a motivation to keep the communication “open” to any future opponents. By investing a tremendous amount of money in an aggressive campaign for an apology, the public relations tables have been turned. Rather than agreeing to an undisclosed settlement, the company has adopted the Steve Buscemi Strategy (seemingly harmless, but with a disconcerting unpredictability).
Honestly, I can’t see the downside in this approach. It’s brilliant. The question will be if others follow suit (excuse the pun) in highlighting frivolous cases, rather than simply settling them for low dollar values. In the meantime, don’t mess with Taco Bell, they’re loco.
Blogger: Matt McCusker