Taco Bell's PR Machine Running On All Cylinders With Its Elimination Of Kids Meals

LOS ANGELES , July 31, 2013 () – As both a consumer and an analyst, I can’t help but admire Taco Bell’s PR spin over its announcement last week that it would begin removing kids meals from its U.S. menus in July, with nationwide elimination by January 2014.

Let’s get the truth out of the way. Taco Bell’s kids meals aren’t selling, pure and simple. According to the fast food chain’s CEO, Greg Creed, the meals account for less than 0.5% of Taco Bell’s overall sales. The company hasn’t even dedicated any national marketing to the product for at least 12 years. If Taco Bell was making money off of this, not only would kids meals be on the menu, but Tony the Taco would be hawking bean burritos and toys in commercials on every major TV channel.

I speak for a lot of consumers when I say that I didn’t even realize Taco Bell had kids meals, so the company could’ve easily removed them from the menu with virtually no response from customers or industry officials. But instead, it turned a failing product into a brilliant PR move.

In the press release, Taco Bell highlighted the fact that it is the first national quick-service restaurant chain to discontinue its kids meals. This is important due to the ongoing debate as to whether such meals are contributing to the nation’s obesity epidemic. Read the press release: Taco Bell says nothing about obesity or health. But in half a sentence, it’s implying that it’s taking a bold step against obesity that none of its competitors have dared to do.

Despite not actually using the word “obesity,” media response for Taco Bell has been very positive. Health advocacy organizations such as Center for Science in the Public Interest praised Taco Bell for eliminating kids meals and urged other quick-service chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s to follow its lead. Other media reports, while mentioning the kids’ meals’ lack of sales success, did not make that the focus of their articles.

Taco Bell took a lemon and made lemonade. It eliminated a losing product, got praised for it and made its competitors look bad in the process.

Now that’s good PR.

Nevin Barich is the Food & Beverage Analyst for IndustryIntel. He had no idea that Taco Bell sold kids meals and isn’t planning to buy one before they go away forever. He can be reached at nevin.barich@industryintel.com

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