Arrow-right Camera


Hispanic Group Pans Taco Bell Ad Spanish-Speaking Chihuahua Called Demeaning

Sun., March 8, 1998

A Hispanic civil rights group wants Taco Bell to quit running commercials that feature a pointy-eared, pint-sized, Spanish-speaking Chihuahua named Dinky.

The fast-food chain uses the dog to hype its products with the signature phrase “Yo quiero Taco Bell,” which means “I want Taco Bell.”

“I think it is very demeaning,” says Gabriel Cazares, a former Clearwater mayor who is of Mexican descent. “It is definitely a hate crime that leads to the type of immigrant bashing that Hispanics are now up against.”

Cazares is president of the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, the country’s oldest Hispanic civil rights group. The chapter is urging Hispanics to boycott Taco Bell and write to its corporate headquarters in Irvine, Calif. A few other chapters have followed suit.

“I think their insensitivity is criminal and the only way we can stop them is to hit them in their pocketbooks,” Cazares said.

Taco Bell spokeswoman Laurie Gannon said the company had not received any negative comments about the dog, which has appeared in four commercials so far.

“We don’t believe we’re portraying the dog in a fashion that is derogatory or insensitive toward Mexicans,” she said. “In fact, we think the commercials portray a sort of quasi-Mexican heritage that is cool and hip.”

Gannon said Dinky has been a hit for Taco Bell, which does $4.9 billion in sales a year at 4,900 restaurants nationwide.

This is not the first time a corporation has been accused of insensitivity toward Mexicans. In the early 1970s, Frito-Lay used a character called the Frito Bandito to sell its corn chips. The company stopped after protests from Hispanic groups.


Click here to comment on this story »