To beef or not to beef. That is the question.

A lawsuit filed last week in California asked Taco Bell, “Where’s the beef,” and alleges the fast-food giant is filling its shells with a mix that was less than 35% beef.
 
Instead of sicking the “Yo Quiero” dog on the bogus beef accusers, Taco Bell is sicking its lawyers on the firm and promising a counter-suit. The company added some hot sauce to the debate with a national ad in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today that sarcastically quips, “Thank you for suing us …Here’s the truth about our seasoned beef.”
 
Taco Bell’s president Greg Creed also cut a video, stating that the claims are absolutely false and that their beef is 88% USDA-quality beef and 12% secret recipe. Creed also gives away what’s in the 12% secret, so if you’re dying to simulate the Taco Bell experience at home, now you can.
 
Thumbs-up to Taco Bell for its swift response managing a potential public relations nightmare.   Using a combination of traditional and social media like Twitter and YouTube helped Taco Bell tell its story across multiple platforms and customer segments.  Now, can you bring back the Frito Burrito, please?

 

Ron Neal, rneal@pondel.com
 
 

USC Wilkinson Scholarship

Samantha Wan

Samantha Wan is this year’s winner of the USC Wilkinson Scholarship.  A first-year graduate student majoring in strategic public relations at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, Samantha earned an undergraduate degree in business from University of California, Santa Cruz.  The annual award was established in 2007, following the death of Cecilia Wilkinson, an active USC alum and principal of PondelWilkinson who was with the firm for 25 years.
 
 

Will Power

Remember that phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid“?  It’s a memorable slogan that emerged during Bill Clinton’s successful first run for presidency in 1992. Ever since then, but particularly in the last few meltdown years, everyone’s talking about it–the economy, that is.
 
The folks who attended the Tatum networking breakfast meeting this week, yours truly included, were no exception.
 
Two and three years ago, it was economic blame for performance woes; at this very same breakfast one year ago, the kvetching gave way to such clichéd rhetoric as hunkering down, blocking and tackling, more aggressive marketing and sales, and of course, slashing overhead.  Alas, while the economy was still the topic de jour at this week’s meeting, the accompanying language was different:  not quite ready to breathe a sigh of relief, but almost there; finally seeing signs of life; getting inquiries on some pretty good engagements;  this should actually be a better year.
 
Spewing those and similar positive utterances was an investment banker specializing in M&A, several auditors, a D&O insurance broker, a management consultant, and others who principally serve middle market companies. In all, there were about 20 folks at the meeting, all similarly positive, with the exception of one–a lawyer specializing in restructuring and bankruptcies, who, because of the unemployment situation, believes the current euphoric feeling is temporary at best and feels we are in for a double dip.  How the world has changed.
 
I, for one, would, of course, like to believe the majority.  After all, we, too, are starting to feel a little better. But the question remains, could that one lone dissenter be right?  Perhaps he is just trying to be hopeful, since in his specialty, bad economic times usually signal good business. And are the others truly feeling that their businesses are better, or are they in so much pain that they are being hopeful as well?
 
Our client, Steve Borick, CEO of Superior Industries, which manufactures wheels for most of the major auto makers, attended the auto show this week in Detroit. He said the mood was clearly up for this bellwether industry.  But he asked, who do you really believe?
 
As 2011 gets underway, it looks like things are getting better, especially if we believe the majority.  And perhaps if we will it, it will indeed come.  We just have to wait a little while longer and see what Q1 brings.

 

Roger Pondel, rpondel@pondel.com
 
 

Roger Pondel Talks IFRS

Recently, the National Investor Relations Institute’s Los Angeles chapter interviewed Roger Pondel regarding International Financial Reporting Standards. Clients with global operations are spending more time on this subject than those that solely operate in the U.S. The SEC is expected to make an adoption decision in 2011, and that, of course, will pace the future insofar as clients’ time commitments are concerned. If there is an affirmative action, it will be effective in about four or five years, giving companies plenty of time to plan, educate, train and retool as necessary. Read the rest of the NIRI article here.

 

Roger Pondel, rpondel@pondel.com