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Taco Bell perception decline less than BK after food tampering crises

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Fri, 10/08/2012 - 16:13
Ted Marzilli
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Just weeks after a Burger King worker was filmed treading on lettuce, Taco Bell had its very own employee gaffe to deal with. One of its employees from Fort Wayne, Indiana, tweeted a video of himself peeing into a plate of nachos. An online group then created a (now removed) “Find this Taco Bell Employee” YouTube video of the employee’s tweets in order gain the public’s attention.

Taco Bell announced that the employee would be fired after the video was first posted on August 1. Just one day after the incident went online, the chain released a statement saying that they had already suspended the employee in question. It announced that the Fort Wayne staff would be sent on a mandatory training course and the facility would be deep cleaned.

Sound familiar? On July 17, Burger King negotiated a similar crisis situation when a photo of an employee standing in a box of lettuce went viral. The image was captioned: “This is the lettuce you eat at Burger King.” BK Corporate issued a statement on July 18 saying: “The franchisee has taken swift action to investigate this matter and terminated the three employees involved in the incident.”

Taco Bell’s quick reaction and damage-limitation seem to have tempered Buzz score declines. The week before the crisis Taco Bell averaged a Buzz score of 11.5 among people who had visited a fast food chain in the past year. This was 7.5 in the week after the video leaked – a drop of 3 points.

In contrast, Burger King had a Buzz average of 20.7 in the week before its crisis, which declined to 10.6 in the week after – a decline of 10.1 points among fast food eaters. Also worth noting is the aftermath of Domino’s perception after a similar video leaked in 2009 – Buzz score fell from an average of 17.5 to 8.9 in the same time span, a drop of 8.6 points.

In fact, when we look at the first 3 days post crisis for both Burger King and Taco Bell, we see very different reactions among fast food consumers. While Burger King’s scores declined steadily, Taco Bell’s scores actually increased. This could indicate that consumers thought Taco Bell dealt with its crisis more effectively or it might simply be that Taco Bell’s troubles were overshadowed by other events, perhaps the high profile debate surrounding Chick-Fil-A’s CEO interview with the Baptist Press..

Taco Bell, Burger King and Domino’s were measured with YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score, which asks respondents: “If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?”

YouGov BrandIndex measurement scores range from 100 to -100 and are compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.

Buzz change among people who have visited a fast food chain at least once in the past year
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Immediate impact on Buzz for Taco Bell and Burger King
Immediate impact on Buzz for Taco Bell and Burger King
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