On January 13 GLAAD reached out to Taco Bell Corporation after receiving numerous complaints about a transphobic radio commercial that was airing across the country. BorderHouse blog published the most complete description of its content on January 7th:
"Some male tells a female (presumably his wife or girlfriend) that it's a surprise that there is nacho cheese in a layer of the Taco Bell burrito. The woman responds with "Well, I have a surprise for you. I was born male, my name was Claudio" and her voice is lowered several octaves. After which, the male says 'Ew.'"
GLAAD contacted Taco Bell's Media Relations staff about the collective outcry over the use of someone's transgender identity as the punch line of a joke and Taco Bell spokesman Rob Poetsch swiftly issued this statement:
"We sincerely apologize as the ad was not meant to offend anyone and as soon as it was brought to our attention, we immediately stopped airing it."
Unfortunately GLAAD has received several reports that the problematic ad is still running in places like Indianapolis, Indiana, Cincinnati, Ohio and Hampton Roads, Virginia. The Advocate Magazine also reported hearing a similar commercial on Sunday morning in Los Angeles on KIIS-FM during Ryan Seacrest's weekly American Top 40 countdown. According to the Advocate, "In this ad, after a fight between the man and the woman, the woman says, "Well then I don't feel so guilty telling you… [I wasn't born] Martha." The woman's voice then changes to a man's voice, which says, "I'm Marvin."
We reached out to Taco Bell to ask that the company rectify this situation immediately and explain why the problematic commercials are still reportedly running in several markets. Taco Bell issued this response:
"We are very concerned to have learned that over the weekend some stations were airing a radio ad that we instructed them to remove on January 14. In the process of replacing the ad, we discovered that some stations inadvertently ran the original commercial. We sincerely apologize that this ad ran again and offended people. We're in the process of contacting all of our radio partners to ensure that the original ad never airs again. We appreciate that GLAAD brought this to our attention so that we could take immediate action."
We appreciate Taco Bell issuing this apology but urge our members to hold the company accountable for fair advertising standards moving forward. If you hear anti-LGBT radio commercials in your local area please contact GLAAD immediately at email@example.com and tell us what time the commercial aired, on what station, and in what city. Taco Bell must live up to its word, pull all of the spots immediately, and cease defaming LGBT people in all future advertisements. GLAAD and the community will be listening.