Christine Dougherty, Come On Down

Taco Bell’s Drive-Thru Diet is a seven-item “fresco-style” menu that has a new Jared-like spokesperson named Christine Dougherty.
Dougherty is a “real-life Taco Bell customer” who lost 54 pounds over a two-year period by replacing her usual fast-food lunch or dinner with an item from Taco Bell’s Fresco menu.
Taco Bell’s agency, DraftFCB in Irvine, Calif. wrapped Dougherty’s story in an informercial framework, a fact which has led some to question whether the campaign is some kind of post-modern joke. It’s not.

Ad Age notes that there’s been something of a bloglash against the campaign, but that it’s for real.

Taco Bell is serious about the program, and has brought a registered dietician from the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers on board to lend credibility to the effort. “The reality is most Americans are on-the-go and will eat foods purchased through a drive-thru an average of 10 times a month,” said Ruth Carey, the Blazers’ nutritionist, whose role in the push is to offer consumers tips for healthier choices while eating at quick-service restaurants.

10 trips a month to the drive-thru? Wow. I must not be an American on-the-go.
At any rate, Tampa Tribune reports that as a buzz-generating tactic, the campaign may be working. Counter to Nielsen’s findings of a negative tilt, Taco Bell is attracting significantly positive buzz among a key demographic group, 18- to 34-year-olds.
It’s clearly wishful thinking that eating at Taco Bell leads to weight loss; however, wishful thinking isn’t exactly a new or particularly hideous development in Adlandia.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Must admit that I could only tolerate about 43 seconds of that video before turning it off. One distressing thing about the Web is that it gives creatives the freedom to abandon the discipline of working within a 30-second format. This video is about 182 seconds too long.
    If Taco Bell manages to spike some sales, more power to them. The problem is, the diet menu direction dilutes the overall brand message – which has never been very clear in Taco Bell’s case. After all, Subway already owns the eat fresh/healthy position. Technically, places like McDonald’s offer a variety of things, from allegedly healthy fruit and salad items to Triple Quarter Pounders with Cheese. So you could argue Taco Bell is just doing likewise. At the same time, this is the franchise that literally invented The Fourth Meal – an additional snack time for a nation already struggling with obesity and unhealthy living. Couldn’t help but think that the opening shots of the video showing people gasping over their overweight conditions were really the end result of one too many drive-thru visits to Taco Bell.
    Of course Taco Bell is getting significant buzz right now. They are enjoying the benefits of introducing their shit to the New Year’s Resolution crowd, where dieting is on everyone’s mind. Let’s see where they are in March or April.