First it was Coca-Cola proactively launching an ad campaign about a shared role Americans play in the obesity battle, and Monday, Taco Bell decided to pull an ad that appears to tout fast food over vegetable consumption.
The ad, which a Taco Bell spokeswoman says was originally released in support of college football’s Bowl Championship Series, states that bringing vegetables to a party is a “cop-out” like “punting on fourth-and-one,” and that “people kinda hate ya for it.” The ad suggests that Taco Bell's 12-taco pack is the better party option. Some people, including the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C-based nutrition watchdog group, wrote Taco Bell in defense of veggies and to criticize the ad's message.
“It's bad enough that there aren't many ads on television for broccoli, kale, or carrots,” CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo G. Wootan said Monday in statement on the group’s website. “The last thing healthy fruits and vegetables needed was to be the subject of attack ads.
“We are delighted that Taco Bell is pulling an ad that urged people not to bring veggie trays to their Super Bowl parties, but to instead bring 12-packs of Taco Bell's tacos.”
A Taco Bell spokesperson told The Associated Press that the company “didn't want anyone to misinterpret the intent of the ad.” Taco Bell, based in Irvine, Calif., is the largest Mexican fast-food chain in the United States, with more than 5,800 locations. To its credit, Taco Bell does have a lower-calorie line of "fresco" options.
As a certified fitness trainer, I don't believe it's Taco Bell's role, necessarily, to tout better eating behaviors in its commercials. Americans are free to make food choices that make sense for them. But the restaurant certainly shouldn't mock or belittle the nutritional choices of people who will hold Super Bowl parties that steer clear of fast food in favor of healthier options like veggie trays and low-fat, low-salt and low-sugar options.
At a time in America when obesity is at an all-time high, it would be laudable if fast-food restaurants spent a portion of their millions of dollars in annual advertising to help better educate Americans in an honest way about food choices. Those chain restaurants also could demonstrate corporate social responsibility by investing in recreational programs or campaigns aimed at keeping Americans fit. According to federal statistics, almost one-in-three Americans is obese, and two-in-three are overweight or obese.
CSPI criticized Coca-Cola two weeks ago for its “Coming Together” ad, which touted Coke’s low-calorie and no-calorie drink line options while suggesting that the burgeoning obesity problem in the United States would be solved only by everyone working together. CSPI called the ad “disingenuous.”