An Employee Licks a Stack of Tacos – How Should Taco Bell Respond?

You do what you can to make sure your brand is portrayed in a positive light. But when an employee photographs himself doing something he shouldn’t while on the job—and then shares via social media—there’s no “undo” button.

The latest Taco Bell controversy has raised flags and made most of us think twice before eating at the fast food restaurant chain. If you haven’t heard about it yet, this photo of a Taco Bell employee licking a stack of taco shells has gone viral:


Gross, right? The image was posted to the company’s Facebook account and was shared countless times thereafter. Hopefully, these tacos weren’t sold to customers and I’m sure the executives at Taco Bell would agree. To be fair, this was probably an isolated incident of a teenage employee trying to be funny. However, the impression it leaves on the public is lasting and we’ll all probably hesitate before going to the fast food joint anytime soon.

So how should a brand like Taco Bell respond when a reputation-crippling image like this is shared through social media and spreads to the masses? Well so far, this brand has kept quiet on social media since yesterday. A rep told The Huffington Post, “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.”

A good first step.

The next step should be firing the employee and making sure the public knows that action has been taken. And the third will be most difficult – rebuilding the brand’s name and addressing the issue where it all started – on social media. It may also be a good idea for Taco Bell to make sure that a company-wide social media policy is in place and that employees are aware of it.

How do you think Taco Bell should respond to the social media frenzy? Let us know in the comments.