‘Where’s the Beef?': Anniversary of an icon
Published January 14, 2014 at 8:02 am
You can learn a lot from commercials that stick in the public mindset. Wendy’s has changed significantly since 1984, but across all those years it’s still probably primarily known for one catchphrase it introduced that helped define the decade: “where’s the beef?”
It succeeded in part due to the simplicity of the original ad. Three elderly women are inspecting a ridiculously tiny burger on an oversized bun. While two of them make mild comments on the relative smallness of the burger, the third remains silent until suddenly shrieking her signature catchphrase.
Since then, Wendy’s has gone on to create burgers that boast sometimes terrifying amounts of beef, like the unofficial T-Rex burger in Canada. Meanwhile, the woman responsible for delivering the catchphrase, Clara Peller, has become an advertising legend, as noted in Fox News’ recent piece, despite dying just a few years after the campaign started.
But even with the passing of both her and Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas, the chain has stuck stubbornly to this catchphrase and used its status as a pop culture touchstone, one forever associated with both the insatiable consumer culture of the 80’s and the restaurant itself.
Just a few years ago, Wendy’s attempted a new answer to this same campaign which featured a a young man rediscovering the older catchphrase only to be met with the restaurant’s response: “Here’s the beef!”
Obviously, that remake hasn’t proved as durable as the original, which made its way into the popular lexicon and even in a Democratic political debate of its debut year. Whatever path your company’s quest for strong advertising takes, remember that it’s only as good as the long-lasting impact it has.