Are they kidding me with the Taco Bell diet?

Subway had great success using Jared to paint its subs as a healthier alternative to fast food that makes you incredibly fat. Taco Bell is trying to get into the act with the "Drive-Thru Diet" campaign (from Draftfcb and R/GA) to coincide with the New Year's resolution season. The TV spot above shows a woman named Christine Dougherty, who apparently dropped 54 pounds by eating low-fat offerings from Taco Bell's "fresco" menu. When I first saw it, I thought it was a Saturday Night Live parody. The woman says she wanted to diet but "didn't want to cut out my fast food." Digest that for a moment. It's like saying you want to get a handle on your drinking problem so long as you don't have to cut out the whiskey. Dieticians are divided about the campaign, but most consumers seem to be laughing about it. Perhaps Taco Bell knows most people won't take it seriously, since the microsite features Christine's story told through infomercials—not exactly a style that builds trust. In Taco Bell's defense, its claims are technically true. You can swing by and pick up some low-fat tacos. If, like Christine, you keep yourself to 1,250 calories a day, you'll probably lose weight. The problem is, most Taco Bell items are far from healthy and often highly caloric. Its menu is filled with items seemingly designed to raise cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Taco Bell even promotes its food as a "fourthmeal," between dinner and breakfast. As Jezebel points out, that makes this ploy as a weight-loss solution particularly cynical.

—Posted by Brian Morrissey