Fun With Press Releases: Taco Bell and the World Series

If you’ve been watching the World Series, you know that Taco Bell, the subsidiary of Yum Brands Inc., has figured out a way to get millions of Americans visit Taco Bell, the fast-food joint, next Tuesday. For the cost of one seasoned beef taco (retail price 77 cents, cost probably half that), they get a customer inside their store, probably hungry for more than a single small taco. I have no hard facts, but I assume the entire per-customer cost of the promotion is more than made up if the customer buys a soft drink.

Some of you might feel like me, though. You want to punish whoever came up with this idea, and you want to strangle it like a baby alien before it grows and reproduces. It’s probably already hopeless.

Tonight after the Sox’s Jacoby Ellsbury triggered the promotion by stealing this World Series’ first base, they played a clip of Red Sox benchwarmer Royce Clayton chatting with Ellsbury last night, reading a script about the free taco, followed by an interview with a Taco Bell executive — I didn’t catch if it was the CEO David Novak or someone else.

Of course Taco Bell is proud of this stunt. The fast-food firm brags about it in this press release:

Irvine, CA–(HISPANIC PR WIRE – BUSINESS WIRE)–October 22, 2007–During the 2007 Major League Baseball World Series you can count on two things: one team will be crowned World Series Champions and all Major League Baseball players will have the opportunity to steal millions of tacos for America.

Imagine if you were just learning English and you came across that last sentence. The mental picture it calls up is scary. Would they steal them all at once, or stealthily, one at a time?

Taco Bell(R), the official Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) of Major League Baseball(R),

The fact that everyone in America calls them “fast food” restaurants won’t stop the industry from trying to jam its jargon down our throats. Not one person in America has ever said, “I got the munchies, where can we find a QSR that’s open late?”

is giving MLB players the signal

Signs. Baseball players get “signs,” not “signals.” Football players get signals: “53! 22! 77! Hike!”

to “Steal A Base, Steal A Taco.” If any player, from either team, steals a base during any game of the 2007 MLB World Series, everyone in the U.S. will have the opportunity to enjoy one free Beef Crunchy Taco from Taco Bell. It’s that simple.

In case you were afraid this taco giveaway would be really complicated. Like you’d have to deposit money in a foreign bank account first.

“The World Series is one of the biggest moments in baseball, so it’s only fitting we serve up the biggest Taco Bell giveaway ever,” said David Ovens, chief marketing officer, Taco Bell Corp. “No matter which team you root for, everybody will be a winner during this World Series.

Really? So if the Red Sox lose, the fans in Boston will feel like winners anyway, because they got a mouthful of ground beef and fried cornmeal they didn’t pay for?

It’s our way of being an official fan of Major League Baseball.”

My way of being an official fan of baseball is sitting front of a TV half the summer, alienating my wife and kid. But that’s just me.

“Steal A Base, Steal A Taco” is the latest “Think Outside the Bun” promotion the company has launched in partnership with Major League Baseball. No stranger to involving the entire United States in its promotions,

Worst. Adjectival. Clause. Ever.

Taco Bell has previously placed its famous “Free Taco” target at the 2002, 2003 and 2004 World Series.

The target promo got attention, but did nothing for foot traffic because the chances that a batted ball would hit the target were infinitesimal. Whereas, the only year a whole World Series went by without a stolen base was 1944.

“Fans across the country will have the opportunity to be a part of the World Series experience through the ‘Steal A Base, Steal A Taco’ promotion,” said John Brody, Senior Vice President, Corporate Sales and Marketing, Major League Baseball. “The extension of the ‘Think Outside the Bun’ philosophy is a creative way to engage Major League Baseball fans in all the action of the 2007 Fall Classic.”

In all the action? No, just one stolen base. That’s already happened.

Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Brock,

I don’t like where this is going…

who stole a record 14 bases in World Series play (including an individual series record seven during the 1967 MLB World Series), will serve as Taco Bell’s spokesperson.

(Weeps.)

“Steal A Base, Steal A Taco” will also benefit a worthy cause — a monetary

You mean, like, money?

donation of $20,000

Phew, it was money. So why did you need to modify it with “monetary?”

will be made to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Official Charity of Major League Baseball as well as Taco Bell, in the name of the first player who steals base in the 2007 MLB World Series.

So, we’re supposed to be impressed by a $20,000 donation from an international conglomerate, when we know they’ll make far more from that from the incremental sodas sold to go with the free 77 cent tacos?

“It was the highlight of my career to participate in and then win a World Series,” said Lou Brock, Hall of Fame left fielder. “It’s great to see Taco Bell engage all of America

I love/hate canned quotes. Sentence one speaks to a meaningful achievement in the life of a celebrated baseball hero. I bet he’s only 0.000000000001 percent as thrilled by the next thing he mentions.

with a free taco offer that makes everyone a winner in this World Series. What’s the likelihood of a stolen base in this World Series? Let’s just say history is on your side.”

LOL! LMAO! What a card!

If the first stolen base occurs during Game 1 or Game 2, America will get its free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco on Tuesday, October 30 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. local time at all participating Taco Bell locations.

Oh great. Too late for lunch, too early for dinner. What if I’m at work? Is this, like, a national holiday?

If the first base is stolen in Game 3 through Game 7, America can redeem their taco on Tuesday, November 6 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. local time at all participating Taco Bell locations. Baseball fans are invited to visit http://www.StealaBaseStealaTaco.com for more information on how to receive a free taco.

That’s right. Go to the website. ‘Cuz that’s where they put the fine print. Want to know who you are agreeing to “hold harmless” when you stick that taco in your taco hole? Surf on over. Even more legalese than this:

No Purchase Necessary. Subject to official rules found in-store and online at http://www.StealaBaseStealaTaco.com. If a base is stolen during regulation or extra innings play by any player for either team in the 2007 MLB World Series, Taco Bell(R) will offer every person in the U.S. the opportunity to obtain one (1) free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco (Approximate Retail Value 77 cents, prices may vary) at participating Taco Bell(R) restaurants in the United States on the date designated herein. Eligible consumers can obtain their free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 (if base is stolen in Games 1 or 2, currently scheduled on October 24 and October 25, 2007) OR November 6, 2007 (if base is stolen in Games 3-7, currently scheduled on October 27, 28, 29, 31, November 1, 2007) (“Redemption Date”) only. To obtain the Free Taco, consumers must visit any participating Taco Bell(R) restaurant in one of the fifty (50) United States or District of Columbia between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. (local time) on the Redemption Date only and request a Free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco. Limit one (1) Free Crunchy Season Beef Taco per person. Void where prohibited. Offer valid at participating Taco Bell(R) locations. (C) 2007 Taco Bell Corp.

Now for the “abouts” that have become customary for corporate press releases:

About the 2007 MLB World Series Championship
The World Series is the culmination of Major League Baseball’s postseason. Beginning in October, the winners of the American League and National League pennants compete for the championship title played in a best-of-seven series. The American League team will have home
field advantage based on the League’s victory of this year’s MLB All-Star Game(R). The 2007 “Fall Classic(TM)” will be its 104th installment.

Really? So that’s what I’m watching? So, what’s a “stolen base?”

About Taco Bell Corp.
Taco Bell Corp. (“Taco Bell”), based in Irvine, California, is the nation’s leading Mexican-style quick service restaurant chain. Taco Bell serves tacos, burritos, signature quesadillas, Grilled Stuft Burritos, nachos, and other specialty items such as Crunchwrap Supreme(R), in addition to a wide variety of Big Bell Menu(R) items. Taco Bell serves more than 36.8 million consumers each week in nearly 5,600 restaurants in the U.S.

In case you thought they served foie gras.

About Major League Baseball Properties
The Major League Baseball Clubs formed Major League Baseball Properties (MLBP) in 1966 as the

Okay. Enough.

Here’s another press release, by a guy announcing he’s available to comment on the Taco Bell promotion. Really. It’s even in the headline:

Guerrilla Marketing Author Available to Discuss Latest Taco Bell National PR Campaign Involving Major League Baseball

-Will Taco Bell Add Fast Food Market Share Again –

Taco Bell Corp. will give a free taco to everyone in America if any player steals a base in the 2007 Major League Baseball World Series.

The fast-food chain, a subsidiary of Louisville-based Yum Brands Inc., on Monday unveiled the promotion, called “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco,” which will run through the best-of-seven match up.

Well, actually no, it won’t. The stolen base happened tonight. Tacos served next Tuesday. End of story.

Al Lautenslager, Author of Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days and Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days Workbook, states that guerrilla marketing does in fact look for creative, unconventional ways to promote products and services, companies and people. Taco Bell is always coming up with something. Their campaign is definitely unconventional.

Is this guy really the right guy to interview? First of all, he’s not the author, he’s the co-author with Jay Conrad Levinson, of the books in question, which is a spin-off of a much more famous book that Levinson wrote by himself. Everywhere I look on the web, I see Levinson is the “father” of guerrilla marketing. Kind of a big omission.

This best-selling author is available to comment on this story today.

“Millions and millions of people will be watching the Series and hopefully tuning in to see when they are going to get their taco,” said Taco Bell spokesman Rob Poetsch.

There has been at least one stolen base in every World Series matchup since 1990. When the first base is stolen, the unit of Yum Brands Inc, will announce a Tuesday afternoon when consumers will be able to walk into the chain’s participating 5,800 outlets and ask for a free taco. Anyone who walks into a participating outlet during the give-away period would be eligible for a free taco.

Taco Bell has used similar PR awareness when the Russian space ship MIR was to land and splash down in 2001. Taco Bell put out its target in the Indian Ocean and proclaimed a free taco for everyone in America if MIR hit their target.

“This type of PR and marketing is definitely Guerrilla Marketing; marketing using time, energy and imagination and not a lot of money,” states Lautenslager.

Not a lot of money? Do you think Fox and Major League Baseball gave up all that time during nationally-televised games for free?

This best-selling author is available to comment on this story today.

Yeah, you said that.

About Al Lautenslager

Al Lautenslager is the best-selling co-author

Now he tells us. Al, who’s the other co-author?

of Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days and The Ultimate Guide to Direct Marketing. He is a sought after speaker

Don’t change the subject. Who’s your co-author? Maybe we want to interview him instead: The father of guerrilla marketing. You’re more like the stepchild.

on marketing, business networking and opportunity in addition to being a featured business coach for the online version of Entrepreneur Magazine. He is also on the small business panel for USA Today, the owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing company in Wheaton, IL, and the principal of Market for Profits, a marketing consulting and coaching firm in Chicago, IL. Al is media trained.

Something the media always likes to know. You’ll be interviewing a guy who knows how to turn al your questions into opportunities to say what he wanted to say in the first place.

Interviews are being scheduled now at al@market-for-profits.com, his direct line 630-740-1397 or through his publicist Mary Reed, 512-441-5212.

About the 2007 MLB World Series Championship

This is information we don’t need from you, Al. He goes on to tell us all about Taco Bell. Yeah, heard of them too. But about that mystery co-author….

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