Taco Bell to WGA: Wanna Write for Food?

Time and time again Cohn Wolfe has executed flawless PR campaigns for the world’s top brands. I’ve always been impressed with their ability to provide tangible results – generating real numbers for measurable success.

Today Cohn Wolfe announced their client, Taco Bell, is “supporting the WGA” by offering striking writers the chance to win $260 worth of free food for 10 clever quips to be printed on sauce packets. (i.e. “Use your stomach, nacho mind.”)

Normally, I love campaigns that allow customers to personally interact with a brand. But, this feels like such an obvious attempt to milk WGA publicity. I wouldn’t be so bothered by the idea of paying writers in food if it weren’t for the faux altruism behind it.

In the press release, Chief Marketing Officer for Taco Bell, David Ovens, says, “The writer’s strike is now in its second month, and Taco Bell wanted to show its support for the thousands of creative minds itching to press pen to paper, or in our case, Border Sauce packets.”

Both an insult to the writers and to advertising copy writers everywhere.

Many brands have secured a little publicity by having food delivered to the picket lines – Taco Bell among them. I certainly think that’s a good move and one likely to be appreciated by the writers for a long time to come. But it just feels wrong to pretend that giving writers the chance to win free burritos for a fast food pun is anything but a publicity stunt.

I’m also not clear what this will really do for Taco Bell’s bottom line. It seems to be a stunt purely for the sake of general publicity. Most stunts center around attracting new customers, capturing customer information, or creating a buzz for a new product launch. All this does (for me) is demonstrate corporate greed with Taco Bell paying $260 for ad copy while piggy-backing a union’s publicity.

Who knows, maybe this will be a huge success for Taco Bell. If it is, I will enjoy a big slice of humble pie right here in front of you all. But, for my money, this falls flat.

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