Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Popular Taco Bell Ad Campaign Raises Ire of Dog Lovers, Latinos

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Popular Taco Bell Ad Campaign Raises Ire of Dog Lovers, Latinos

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES -- Ay caramba, Taco Bell.

The fast-food chain has unveiled the latest in a series of mega- successful television commercials featuring Dinky, a Chihuahua with commercials and a seemingly endless appetite for Mexican-style fast food.

Given the cult status he's achieved in the past seven months, it seemed fitting that in Thursday's installment Dinky shares the small screen with another cult giant, Godzilla. Indeed, so successful has the $60 million ad campaign grown that Dinky's trademark "Yo quiero Taco Bell" has entered the American vernacular, joining such past TV-created gimmicks as "I can't believe I ate the whole thing!" and "Where's the beef?" Within weeks of the first airing, t-shirts appeared with knock-off slogans, such as "Yo quiero beer." Fast-food competitor Jack-in-the- Box created a spoof ad, in which a Jack antenna ball mocks a Dinky look-alike for not recognizing good food. But Dinky isn't just a mutt with a great line. The cocky pup is stirring ethnic tensions and fueling a popularity boom that some fear will lead to an eventual backlash and the abandonment of Chihuahuas everywhere. All this from a television ad? Ay caramba, indeed. Scotty Wetenkamp, co-director of Chihuahua Rescue, said there's been a "dramatic increase" in interest in the Mexican breed at his shelter, which places unwanted dogs in local homes. Business has been slow lately, Wetenkamp said, largely because of Dinky-fueled demand. When Chihuahuas do show up at local shelters, they're quickly snatched up by would-be owners, he said. But as with plenty of past canine-phenoms -- most notably Disney's 101 Dalmatians -- an ugly side will emerge down the road, Wetenkamp predicted. "They're not good with children. They bite. They're fragile. Kids seeing the commercials may say, Hey, Mommy, that's cute. But after a while, Mommy gets tired of doing all the work. …

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