Taco Bell Grateful for Beef Lawsuit?

March 1/New York/Lowell Sun -- Taco Bell is turning to TV commercials to battle damage to its image from a lawsuit questioning its taco filling.

The fast-food chain has been on the defensive since it was pushed into the media spotlight by a lawsuit that claimed the restaurant's seasoned beef filling did not have enough beef to be billed as such.

The new $3 million television ad campaign comes the week that Taco Bell is due to respond to the lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in California.

Taco Bell, whose TV ad campaign runs this week, initially fought back with full-page ads last month in national newspapers. The print ads made a splash with the headline "Thank you for suing us."

The company also launched a social media campaign, urging Twitter users to voice their support. Also, earlier this month Taco Bell offered Facebook fans a free crunchy beef taco to thank them for their loyalty.

Taco Bell said it planned the TV campaign after company studies showed the previous campaigns reached only about half the population.

The Alabama law firm that filed the lawsuit last month in California has said its testing showed the filling was made of only 35% beef and therefore could not be called "beef." Taco Bell has repeatedly said the claim is false.

The Beasley Allen law firm of Montgomery, Ala., had no comment.

In the television commercials, Taco Bell employees talk about the filling and direct customers who want to know more about what is in it to the company's website.

The commercials do not mention the lawsuit, but emphasize the company's message that the filling is 88% beef and 12% "signature recipe," seasonings and other ingredients.

From the March 7, 2011, Prepared Foods E-dition