This may be old news by now but since I’ve devoted myself to nutrition and fitness in the new year, I tend to think long and hard about new diet plans and emerging weight loss fads. But when Taco Bell rolled out it’s new “Drive-Thru Diet” campaign at the beginning of the new year, I was struck with a bit of consumer confusion.

After chewing on the idea for a few weeks (pardon the pun), I’ve begun to come to terms with my adverse reaction to the Taco Bell “diet program”. As a college student I would regularly run for the border as loud cars crowded with late-night bar goers made the fast food joint come to life under the stars. I’d pull through the drive-thru and order a Double-Decker Taco Supreme and Nachos Bell Grande without flinching. I knew I was piling on the bad calories and I didn’t care. Now, the fast food restaurant famed for coining “fourthmeal” and creating the half-pound burrito is preaching weight loss? It’s confusing for a consumer who has consistently relied on Taco Bell for a fix of cheesy, calorie-laden goods.

Turns out my reaction isn’t atypical. While Subway’s use of the sub-munching, weight loss king Jared Fogle worked for their brand image (which already veered on the healthier side of things with a menu offering tons of fresh veggies and whole grains), the same tactic isn’t working for Taco Bell. Instead, health-conscious Americans are questioning the fast food giant’s claims. Although the commercial makes it clear that weight loss is about “healthy choices from Taco Bell’s Fresco menu”, the concept that fast food is a healthy choice is misleading and confusing to consumers. Point blank, spokeswoman Christine Dougherty just didn’t eat a lot… of anything. Taco Bell’s commercial emphasizes the product rather than the process which may be a bit of genius marketing but it has raised a lot of eyebrows in the process- including mine. Taco Bell should make up their mind: Are they “fat” or “fit”?

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