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Taco Bell Lacks 'Quality'

August 20, 2000

I read "Taco Bell Replaces Top Exec; Chihuahua Out Too" [July 19] with interest and, quite frankly, astonishment.

Reading and rereading the article, I noted that not once was the word "quality" used in reference to the products being sold. Of course, no one expects gourmet food at a fast-food establishment, but I think it's important to put Taco Bell's product quality in perspective when analyzing a 6% same-store sales drop.

The Chihuahua campaign's success in 1999 was dazzling; any implication that it can somehow be blamed for 2000's sales drop is simply bizarre.

There are plenty of thriving small chains that "drive loyalty" with quality, freshly prepared fast food. Locally, one can cite Rubio's, Baja Fresh, In-N-Out and others. Obviously these are not giant international chains, but the principles are the same.

One senses that TBWA Chiat/Day's Tom Carroll felt the pressure of promoting a poor-quality product from his comment, "When we had strong product, [the Chihuahua] was strong." He is being diplomatic, I suspect.

The cycle of new-product development and intense, expensive promotion will never end at Taco Bell, or at any of its similarly managed competitors, until the fundamental issue of basic quality is addressed.

JULIUS MARC MUSHKIN

Irvine

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