Danielle Smith

Mass Communication

Oxford, MI


In 2011, Hacienda Mexican Restaurants, based in South Bend, Indiana, faced serious backlash for a new advertising campaign that was put onto billboards throughout the area. On the billboard was a picture of what was assumed to be an alcoholic beverage, a margarita, with the caption, “We’re like a cult with better Kool-Aid.” Another caption next to the margarita read “To die for!” At the bottom of the billboard was the logo for the restaurant chain. Those two statements were in reference to the 1978 Jonestown Massacre in Guyana where cult leader Jim Jones instructed more than 900 of his followers to drink a cyanide-laced purple Flavor Aid that led to their deaths. (Latson, 2014) The TARES test is a set of questions that every person creating a persuasive message should use to analyze the ethics behind an advertising message. (Patterson & Wilkins 2014, p. 56) TARES stands for truthfulness, authenticity, respect, equity and social responsibility. This test will be employed to examine the ethics behind this billboard ad.