Jan 042010

Advertising Fail courtesy of the Fail Blog

If you’ve watched television at all in the last 10 years or so you are most likely familiar with the name Jared Fogel, and if not you’d likely recognize him if you saw a picture. Jared is “the Subway guy.” For those of you who are not familiar with his admittedly impressive story, the Reader’s Digest version is that back in 1997 Jared lost an incredible amount of weight by following what he termed “The Subway Diet.” The diet program in and of itself was pretty simple. Jared, who had been consuming what he estimates as nearly 10,000 calories a day, replaced two of his meals with six inch sandwiches from Subway’s “7 under 6” menu (sandwiches with a total of less than six grams of fat). He also walked pretty much everywhere and added other types of exercise on top of that. In the end he managed to lose over 240 pounds, and when the advertising executives at Subway caught wind of his success they hired him as a spokesman. That move turned out to be a smashing success for the restaurant chain, and Jared has been associated with them ever since.

While many restaurants have tried to duplicate the success that Subway had marketing themselves as a diet-friendly fast food alternative there is little doubt that Subway has remained the uncontested king of the healthy lifestyle hill.  So far they’ve managed to fight off all other pretenders to their throne, but it looks like they may be facing a new challenge from a fairly unlikely source.

Taco Bell.

In what is, essentially, an almost exact copy of “The Subway Diet” the restaurant behind such health-conscious advertising campaigns as “Fourth Meal” has decided to jump into the diet friendly marketing arena. The focus of their campaign is Christine, a woman who lost 54 pounds over two years with the assistance of the Taco Bell Fresco menu. Unwilling to even come up with an original name lest they spoil the mojo that Subway discovered with their efforts, they have dubbed this new way of thinking as “The Taco Bell Drive-Thru Diet.” Like “The Subway Diet” when you look at the fine print all these diets are nothing more than people making good food choices and adding physical activity to their daily routines.

You know….eating less and exercising.

Where have we heard THAT before?

The beauty of the Subway Diet, from a company perspective, is that they didn’t have to offer anything new on their menu in order to have healthy choices. All they did was point out that many of the items they already offered weren’t that bad for you as long as you ate a reasonable amount of it. Taco Bell doesn’t quite have the same situation. The food they are offering on their Fresco menu, while tasty, is a pretty radical departure from the way most people normally order food at Taco Bell (one of the primary differences, for example, is the fact that they replace sour cream and cheese on their soft tacos with salsa).

I’m not saying I disapprove of the fact that Taco Bell is trying to offer healthier foods at all, but it bugs me that both of these companies use the term “diet” in their advertising campaigns. The act of switching your drive-thru of choice to Taco Bell will not, in and of itself, help you lose weight. The folks who have done so made some pretty radical changes to their entire lifestyle in order to achieve their “not-typical” results, and anyone who thinks they are going to get away with doing anything less is fooling themselves.

Opinionated rant aside, if you’re in need of a fast meal fix and you want to hit a drive-thru you can do far worse than the Fresco Menu at Taco Bell. If you act quickly, you can even try one of their items out for free by using this coupon.

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  6 Responses to “Truth in advertising”

  1. Of course, the healthier choice Fresco stuff also costs more… or at least it did last time I went to a Taco Bell in Jacksonville.

  2. dood. I’ve been eating stuff off the fresco menu for months – its not bad at all… interestingly enough, as long as you don’t eat oodles and oodles of certain “regular” items on the Taco Bell menu, you can still get out of there without derailing your “diet” for instance – a personal non-fresco favorite combo of things:
    1 Order Steak Taquitos with Guacamole
    1 crunchy taco
    1 unsweet tea
    Calories: 515
    Fat: 23g
    Carb: 51g
    Protein: 23g

    While this isn’t “ideal” for what a lot of people aim for, its not the end of the world either – its not so much WHERE you eat, as what you order…. just saying…. Personally, I’d like to see the fat lower and the protein higher, but I am a freak of nature.

    • Agreed. In the realm of fast food you can do pretty well at Taco Bell if you’re careful. I tried some of the Fresco items yesterday and they were really tasty. That said, Taco Bell is one of those places I can do a LOT of damage because I like the uber nasty stuff that isn’t good for ya.

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