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Taco Licker Canned
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No amount of explanation of the Taco Bell viral photo that has upset so many customers, which we reported on earlier, can do away its first impression. Though this employee featured in the photo licking a stack of taco shells was not intended to gross out Taco Bell customers, seeing is believing. Taco Bell fired him and also the photographer of this photo.

The employee reported, “Just got the call. I’m fired,” as reported on the Huffington Post, and Taco Bell made the statement:


Our franchisee is responsible for the employment and conduct of his restaurant’s employees and he has informed us that he immediately suspended the employee shown in the photo and is in the process of terminating his employment.

Well, why did they fire him? What’s the story? Apparently Taco Bell had an internal contest among employees to show employees enjoying the new product, the Cool Ranch Doritos-flavored taco shells. This employee had a picture taken of himself enjoying a stack of the shells, but he later decided it didn’t fit the requirements of the contest, so he didn’t submit it. The picture nevertheless ended up on his Facebook, and from there it ended up on Taco Bell’s Facebook page, causing a media frenzy.

And so Taco Bell fired him. Not that he did anything wrong. Heck, he even pretended to like their product, though if you ask enough Taco Bell employees if they still eat at the restaurant, you might find a lot of them say no. Nevertheless, public image is everything, so he had to be sacrificed, ritually.

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“One of the smartest things a brand can do is to respond as quickly and intelligently as possible,” said Erika Napoletano, a brand strategy consultant, as reported by USA Today. What that means is loyalty to employees counts less than loyalty to customers: if the public perceive a picture the wrong way, go with what the public says: after all, what we are really loyal to is money, and everybody knows Taco Bell employees are expendable.

Or as Taco Bell explains it: “We do not believe these employees harmed or intended to harm anyone. But we deplore the impression this has caused to our customers, fans, franchises, and team members.”


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