Taco Bell Wants More $2 Bills. Grammarians Want Accuracy!

Next time you're at Taco Bell, ask the cashier to give you change in $2 bills. See what happens.

Taco Bell sez, “Yo quiero… dos dólares.”

The fast food chain recently ran an ad in USA Today with an open letter addressed to the Federal Reserve. Taco Bell is asking the Fed to circulate more $2 bills for its new $2 meal deals: “We want to make sure there are enough $2 bills in circulation to meet the pending demand.”

Taco Bell's ad in USA Today: "Hey Fed, We’re Gonna Need A Lot More $2 Bills."

The Washington Post snarkily comments, “concerned or bored customers may also sign a petition of support on Facebook (how predictable).”

A Facebook petition can get Betty White on Saturday Night Live, but it probably won’t motivate the Federal Reserve. Is it enough to motivate you?

Be careful what you advertise.

The Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics columnist, Sudeep Reddy, wryly implies that Taco Bell should be careful what it wishes. Since the demand for currency circulation largely comes through transactions (not Facebook petitions), Reddy concludes, “That means people need to request more $2 bills from their banks—or, say, from a local fast food restaurant—if they want more in circulation. Perhaps Taco Bell can complicate the lives of its cashiers and store managers by forcing them to use $2 bills more often. That should put an end to this marketing campaign fairly quickly.”

Perhaps coincidentally, there’s an email urban legend about a Taco Bell customer who had trouble using a $2 bill at the restaurant. Both the cashier and manager allegedly thought there was no such thing! Snopes details the legend, but doesn’t pass judgment whether it’s true or not. Either way, it’s pretty funny and illustrates the Wall St. Journal’s point.

Question for Taco Bell: Why isn't "Why Pay More®!" a question?

Vigilante Grammarians ask, why isn’t “Why Pay More!” a question?

A new Facebook group called Vigilante Grammarians has small bone to pick with Taco Bell. It’s not the $2 bill petition that’s at issue, but rather the slogan “Why Pay More!®”

Nitpicky? Maybe. The VG group’s motto is “If you don’t give a damn about the comma, what do you care about?” Yet in advertising, rules are regularly ignored, bent, or broken.

Got grammar?

Here’s a famous ungrammatical example you probably take for granted by now: “Got Milk?”

To be grammatically correct, Goodby Silverstein’s immortal tag line technically should have said: “Do You Have Milk?” The eponymous book about the Got Milk campaign recounts that the agency understood this. But they rightfully reasoned it was better to be punchy instead of pedantic.

Question: Does a sentence that begins with “why” have to be a question? I’m going out on a limb and saying no. It could also be a statement leading to an explanation. For instance, this post could have been titled: “Why Taco Bell wants more $2 bills.” But in this case, I’m siding with the Vigilante Grammarians. It just looks weird to say “Why Pay More!” as an exclamation. My guess is they did it just to make it easier to put a registered ® trademark symbol on it. ¡Ay carumba!

I’d love to see any examples of glaring grammatical errors (especially spelling typos) you’ve found in advertising. I’d also encourage you to post them to the Vigilante Grammarians group on Facebook.

If Facebook can get Betty White onto SNL, do you think Taco Bell’s campaign will actually succeed in circulating more $2 bills? Do you care enough about the $2 bill or Taco Bell to join the Facebook petition page? (Maybe you’re a Del Taco person!)

After all this Taco Bell talk, do you miss the Chihuahua yet?



9 responses to “Taco Bell Wants More $2 Bills. Grammarians Want Accuracy!

  1. Doug Saunders

    I didn’t think advertising was required to follow all of the rules of grammar. It seems like they take liberty at times to make a point or to make it memorable. For example, some ads use one word sentences or fragments. Aren’t sentences suppose to have a subject and verb to be proper? Similar to TV, advertising takes liberty with the rules.

    • Doug, thanks for chiming in. Advertising often uses fragments to make copy read more conversational. Rules are bent all the time to make a point. And with shorter and shorter attention spans, short sentences help get the message across.

      Yes. Pedagogues may insist that sentences include both subject and verb (and predicate). But even great literature will take liberties with the rules. Novels use often use one-word sentences.

      It may sound odd, but it helps to know the rules before you can break them effectively.

  2. Sometimes advertising is the only exposure to ‘literature’ some people get.

    So it would be like, good, if like it could be like properly grammered and stuff. Otherwise folk might pick up bad habits, right?!

  3. In the graph that begins, “Nitpicky?” a closed quote is needed after the phrase, “What do you care about?”


    • Good catch, Scott! Thanks for proofreading and caring enough to comment. We strive for accuracy here at Love Hate Advertising, even if it’s only advertising.

  4. Pingback: Hold the Creativity, I Just Need an Ad, Quick | Love Hate Advertising

  5. Pingback: Taco Bell Bites Back with Ad Aimed at Hungry Attorneys | Love Hate Advertising

  6. There are over a billion dollars worth of $2 bills in circulation. I’m pretty sure if Taco Bell wanted to use them in their stores, they’d have no trouble getting enough of them.

    As to making life more complicated—how so? Making change including the $2 denomination is not hard. Canadians do it routinely throughout the day with their $1 and $2 coins. Even the Euro has a 2€ denomination. American cashiers are not incapable of learning how to count by two.

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