Week's Winners and Losers: VW Cheats; Taco Bell's New Eatery

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Taco Bell Alcohol
Matt Marton/APThe first Taco Bell Cantina restaurant, along Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago, opened Tuesday.
There were plenty of winners and losers this week, with an iconic automaker caught trying to cheat emission standards and a leading fast-food burrito roller introducing a new fast-casual concept.

Amazon.com (AMZN) -- Winner

The spotlight was on Amazon's video initiatives this week. The leading online retailer kicked things off by winning five Emmy awards for its hit show "Transparent." It then went on to announce six new shows that it's considering bankrolling.

Amazon will make the pilots to all six shows available later this year. It will then weigh viewer ratings and comments in deciding which ones to produce. It's not a conventional approach, but Amazon doesn't really do things the conventional way.

Volkswagen (VLKAY) -- Loser

It was a brand-tarnishing week for the once-beloved German automaker. Volkswagen came under fire for installing software into its diesel vehicles that delivers bogus results of emission tests.

Having to recall 500,000 of its diesel cars to meet U.S. federal standards was just the beginning. Volkswagen eventually conceded that as many as 11 million cars could have discrepancies, setting aside $7.3 billion to cover the fallout. Its CEO stepped down, and now the real damage left to assess will be how hard sales will drop until it's able to win back consumer trust.

Yum Brands (YUM) -- Winner

After months of buzz, Taco Bell is finally starting to deliver some buzz. Parent company Yum Brands opened the first Taco Bell Cantina on Tuesday in Chicago, the first Taco Bell-branded restaurant to serve alcohol. We're talking about a full line of craft beers, wine and sangria, as well as rum, vodka and tequila that can be added to any fountain or frozen beverage.

This isn't a winning move just because you can now get your drink on at an experimental Taco Bell eatery in Illinois. Taco Bell Cantina offers many trademarks that make it more fast casual than fast food, including an open exhibition kitchen, a lack of drive-thru windows and food served unwrapped on open baskets. If the concept takes off, it can quickly ramp up the concept by converting some of its more than 6,000 traditional Taco Bell locations.

Yelp (YELP) -- Loser

Be careful the next time that you rant on Yelp. A judge has decided that a woman in New York owes a floor refinisher provider $1,000 after badmouthing the service provider in a Yelp review.

To be fair, she called the refinishing company a scam, liar, and robber. Two out of those three insults carry criminal implications, and that's why the judge ruled against her. She will appeal -- and Yelp will want to make sure that she wins. The last thing that the merchant reviews website wants is for folks to feel that posting an opinion can prove costly down the line.

Facebook (FB) -- Winner

The leading social networking website wants to wrap you in eye candy. Facebook introduced videos shot in 360 degrees. Viewers can play the video and pan the perspective while it plays.

The first video that went viral is in promotion of the upcoming "Star Wars" movie, but you can be sure that others will take advantage of the new platform to promote movies, video games, and even travel destinations. Once again, Facebook is an early adopter of something that could be an important online tool for marketers.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Amazon.com and Facebook. The Motley Fool recommends Yelp. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out The Motley Fool's one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.
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