Taco John’s trademarked Taco Tuesday in 1989. Taco Bell wants to cancel that. The news of Taco Bell’s petition to do so went viral last week and caught Taco John’s a bit off guard.
But the company responded swiftly with an extended Taco Tuesday deal and has no plans of budging on its claim to the phrase. The company has even gone so far as to call Taco Bell a bully.
It has become a bit of a David and Goliath situation between the Wyoming-based chain with less than 400 units and the Yum Brands-owned global behemoth. And it’s provided quite a tailwind for Taco John’s, which perhaps wasn’t Taco Bell’s intention.
“It’s been really exciting. We think we’re doing some really, really cool things with this and frankly this movement from Taco Bell has given us the opportunity to tell the brand story in a way we couldn’t have imagined,” Taco John’s CMO Barry Westrum said during an interview on the show floor of the National Restaurant Association Show this week in Chicago.
In less than a week, the small brand has garnered over 1 billion media impressions globally, for instance. Brand sentiment is now 95% positive, the company has experienced a “significant improvement” in same-store sales growth and traffic in the last week and the app has experienced a 25% increase in downloads. All of this just since this news broke last week.
The company’s response to Taco Bell’s petition has driven much of this momentum – offering its Taco Tuesday deal that includes $2 for two tacos every day through the end of the month for rewards members.
“I’m really proud of my organization for how we got together, made sure we had our ducks in a row from a legal perspective, from a digital perspective and how we jumped on it from a messaging perspective by having a digital offer in the app ready to go, from the standpoint of communicating with our franchisees and store managers to know this was coming,” Westrum said. “And, our consumers are voting with not only their mindset but also with their feet. It’s just been a wonderful opportunity for our brand.”
Westrum even went so far as to thank Taco Bell for “reminding America that Taco Tuesday is best spent at Taco John’s.”
As far as how this will play out, Westrum has no idea. He did acknowledge, however, that the company isn’t going to let the trademark go.
“We feel strongly that we owe it to our franchisees and other small business people who had an idea and drove the idea and saw success with the idea and fought to get the claim," he said. "We feel obligated to defend it for them and for our fans who have come to expect great deals from us every Tuesday for the last 34 years."
Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]