Man licking taco shells

Taco Nightmare

Well, I’m sure this isn’t what Taco Bell was thinking when they adopted the slogans “Think Outside The Bun” or “Live Más”

If you’ve not seen what I’m talking about, Taco Bell has quite the social media crisis on its hands after a photo surfaced showing an unnamed California employee licking a stack of taco shells.

The picture was posted to Facebook by an account registered to “Jj O’Brien Nolan,” who lists an affiliation to Ridgecrest, California. It was posted on the Consumerist website after a reader saw it posted on Taco Bell’s Facebook page.

Granted, we don’t know the entire story behind the photo in question; nevertheless, it’s been posted on Taco Bell’s Facebook Page NUMEROUS times since coming into circulation.

It’s also important to note that it’s not certain if the shells were meant for customer consumption or if the employee was transporting them to the garbage can.

Whatever the case is, it’s not good for the brand.

While the manager of the Ridgecrest, California Taco Bell, where the picture was allegedly taken, said the location is investigating the matter.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and team members, and we have strict food handling procedures and zero tolerance for any violations,” a company spokesman said in a statement provided to media outlets. “When we learned of the situation we immediately contacted this restaurant’s leadership and although we believe it is a prank and the food was not served to customers, we are conducting a full scale investigation and will be taking swift action against those involved.”

However, Taco Bell has yet to say anything where they can reach more than 10 million people. One of the most important spaces in today’s marketing arena. Their very own Facebook page.

There’s not been a post since Sunday (which was pre-photo leak) by the brand, but there have been countless people commenting on the photo in question or reposting the photo itself. This is a huge mistake.

Why would a brand with so much goodwill hanging in the balance choose to not address this issue where it first caught fire? That’s the $1 million question.

There is also the disappointment that comes from seeing a company that does social media right let this issue go without a response. Taco Bell has been featured all over the web for their consistently witty responses to fans on Facebook and Twitter.

We here at The Brandon Agency have clients in the consumer goods, packaged goods and food service industries and have faced similar adversity in the social media realm, although not to this magnitude,.

However, we’ve met them head on and unequivocally would not take the silent approach when it comes to social media crisis management like Taco Bell is currently doing when it comes to talking directly to customers.

You cannot right the ship if you do not remedy the situation.

If they don’t soon address this, how much longer will people be saying “yo quiero Taco Bell?”

UPDATE: Taco Bell has started responding to posts and questions about the incident on their Facebook page today. They are letting people know the situation is unacceptable and linking them to this official statement on their website.