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False Advertising? Taco Bell’s attempt to find the new Jared January 3, 2010

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Over the holiday season in December 2009, Taco Bell unveiled “The New Jared,” an everyday person who apparently lost weight by eating fast food. New spokesperson Christine Dougherty has stated in commercials that she lost 54 pounds in two years by eating “Fresco” menu items at Taco Bell. The company has confusingly attempted to shield itself from charges of false advertising, as Alex Leo for The Huffington Post noted:

Taco Bell shields itself repeatedly in their new ads and Website by saying “These results aren’t typical,” these are “not low calorie foods,” and the “Drive-Thru Diet® menu is not a weight-loss program” but it is after all called the “Drive-Thru Diet” so the intent is clear.

According to some reviews, the Taco Bell ad is persuasive. A story by ABC News suggested that the commercial makes it clear that consumers have choice at their favorite fast food restaurants. Despite the fact that Taco Bell modified its claims in the ad, some experts argued, many Americans probably will not recall hearing those warnings. According to other reviews, though, the ad produces more laughter than results. According to Amina Khan of the Los Angeles Times, for instance, the ad is extremely ambiguous and provides no evidence that Christine Dougherty actually lost any weight due to consuming Taco Bell.

To see the ad yourself, along with further coverage of Taco Bell’s claim, watch the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  How does Taco Bell attempt to modify its claim that the “fast food diet” is effective?

2.  Despite modifying its claim, how does Taco Bell seem to continually insist that its “Fresco” items can lead to weight loss?

3.  Is Taco Bell guilty of false advertising?  Why, or why not?

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