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Taco Bell Encourages Recall Ballot Stuffing

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LOS ANGELES Taco Bell Corp. will run a full-page ad today in the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee that ties the chain's products into California's gubernatorial recall election. The onetime-only ad, from Foote, Cone & Belding in San Francisco, says that the company will count a vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger for each Crunchy Beef Taco sale and one for Gov. Gray Davis for each Soft Chicken Burrito sold. Taco Bell will split a vote among the other candidates on the overcrowded ballot for each Grilled Stuft Burrito sold. The ad, which carries the current campaign's tagline, "Think outside the bun," implores the electorate to "Vote early, vote often."

Laurie Schalow, client director of public relations, said the concept came out of the Irvine, Calif., company's Buzz Marketing group, which has scored publicity coups by floating giant targets in the South Pacific for the splashdown of the Mir Space Station and in McCovey Cove, outside San Francisco's Pacific Bell Park stadium, during the 2002 World Series. Schalow said the company will monitor the voting until the day before Election Day, Oct. 7, counting votes as they pertain to increased sales of the individual food items, and will report the results on its Web site and in wire releases.