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Too spicy for the Bell: Taco Bell pulls ads from MTV’s ‘Skins’ teen drug, drink and sex series

by Staff

Major media outlets are reporting that Taco Bell executives are pulling their ads from the MTV adaption of the controversial “Skins” series that follows a group of teens through their lives.

And boy, these are some lives. Like the British original, the kids are portrayed as either high, drunk or naked or in the process of getting high, drunk or naked.

Taco Bell, which sells faux Mexican food, is one part of the Louisville-based Yum Brands Inc., the largest restaurant chain in the world.

Taco Bell executives, who apparently didn’t hear about the years of controversy the original version generated, realized after the first showing last Monday that it was – how do they say this in corporate-ese? – a bad fit.

The New York Times and other media outlets are calling it “the Skins Scandal,” reporting that MTV executives have ordered the show’s naughty bits pruned back, worried about child-porn charges!

Here’s the full story from The New York Times “Media Decoder” blog:

Risqué scenes on the hit MTV drama “Skins” have caused one company to remove its commercials from the program and have spurred a call by a TV watchdog group for a federal investigation.

Taco Bell said Thursday that it had shifted its ads to other programs because “Skins” was “not a fit for our brand.” MTV did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Friday.

“Skins” gained attention earlier in the week when The New York Times reported that MTV executives had ordered edits to upcoming episodes of the show for fear of running afoul of child pornography statutes. Some of the actors in “Skins” are under the age of 18. In response, MTV said in a statement that the episodes of “Skins” will comply with all legal requirements.

After the Times report, the Parents Television Council, a TV watchdog group with conservative tendencies, called on Congress and the Justice Department to “open an investigation regarding child pornography and exploitation.”

The group asserted in a letter on Thursday that the program may be in violation of federal statutes pertaining to portrayals of child sexual abuse and sexual behavior.

“Since it is not necessary for Viacom or MTV to distribute the material in order to be in violation of the law, we call upon your committees to immediately investigate Viacom and MTV for the production of this material. Furthermore, we urge you in the strongest possible terms to compel the Attorney General to mount an investigation by the Department of Justice into whether the production of ‘Skins’ has violated federal law meant to protect minors from exploitation,” the group wrote to the chairs of the Congressional judiciary committees.

The group also criticized Taco Bell for advertising on the first episode of “Skins,” which was shown on Monday night.

A Taco Bell spokesman said Thursday evening, “We advertise on a variety of MTV programs that reach our core demographic of 18 to 34 year olds, which included the premiere episode of Skins. Upon further review, we’ve decided that the show is not a fit for our brand and have moved our advertising to other MTV programming.”

The one-two punch — the group’s letter and Taco Bell’s decision — drew attention from television networks. The Fox News commentators Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity both blasted MTV on Thursday night, and the morning shows on NBC, ABC and CBS all broadcast reports about the so-called “Skins” scandal on Friday morning.

More on Taco Bell and Skins:

Taco Bell pulls ads from MTV’s ‘Skins‘ (Huffington Post blog.)

Taco Bell pulls ads from MTV’s ‘Skins’ over racy content. (Hollywood Reporter.com)

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