Wendy’s brings back ‘Where’s the beef?’

October 17, 2011  |  Chris Powell  |  Comments

Proving that, unlike bad fast-food, you can’t keep a good advertising tagline down, burger chain Wendy’s has resurrected its iconic “Where’s the Beef?” slogan in a new integrated marketing campaign.

Created by New York-based Kaplan Thaler Group, and adapted for the Canadian market by MacLaren McCann, the new campaign answers the 1984 question posed by the late Clara Peller that went on to become a national catchphrase.

In one of the new TV spots, “T-shirt,” a young man born long after the catchphrase’s heyday buys a vintage T-shirt featuring the words “Where’s the Beef?” emblazoned on the front, only to be confused when people begin repeatedly saying the phrase to him. The spot concludes with the young man coming across a Wendy’s restaurant with a sign reading “Here’s the beef.”

Another spot, “Little Wendy,” begins with a flashback showing actors portraying Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas and the restaurant’s namesake, his daughter Wendy. The voiceover states “Remember Wendy, we make our hamburgers hot and juicy–and we’ll always make them hot and juicy,” before the image shifts to a grown-up Wendy Thomas, who introduces the chain’s new burger lineup.

“These would have made dad say ‘Here’s the beef,’” she says of the new burgers, the result of a “taste-lift” that includes bigger patties, a new buttery bun and premium toppings. The chain has named its revamped burger lineup “Dave’s Hot N Juicy,” a tribute to the Wendy’s founder who was the face of the burger chain until his death in 2002.

The spots retain the chain’s “You know when it’s real” positioning.

Other campaign elements will include a “Here’s the Beef” direct mail piece featuring a series of coupons, digital banner ads, a Facebook page, as well as in-store merchandising and out-of-home advertising in select markets. M2 Universal handled media for the campaign.

In bringing back “Where’s the beef?” Wendy’s is no doubt hoping to recapture some of the magic that made its original incarnation–created by Dancer Fitzgerald Sample–such a cultural (and business) phenomenon.

According to a 1985 report in Time magazine, Wendy’s sales jumped 31% to US$945 million in 1984, while the slogan appeared on everything from T-shirts and baseball caps to a record album and kitchen utensils.

All of which begs the question: “Whasssssssup?”

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