CHICAGO (Adage.com) -- After falling behind resurgent rivals with two failed post-Dave Thomas advertising campaigns, Wendy’s International is shedding its folksy image and one-size-fits all message.
In its place, the burger chain is returning to its square hamburger roots, boosting its marketing budget, targeting three distinct consumer groups and making its first foray into Internet advertising. It appears that Wendy’s has adopted an “If you can’t beat 'em, join 'em” strategy.
“It’s no secret we’ve faced some challenging times at Wendy’s,” said Ian Rowden, executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He said the number of competitors grew from 15 chains that can generate a $1 billion in revenues to 24 by 2004. Wendy's is the third-largest burger chain behind McDonald's Corp. and Burger King Corp.
Since the company's founder, Dave Thomas, died in 2002, the burger chain named for one of his daughters has struggled to find a voice for its ad messages that was as effective of his. Mr. Thomas who starred in more than 800 commercials over 13 years. Wendy's even tried using an "unofficial" spokesman, "Mr. Wendy," a hapless burger evangelist. Wendy's dumped the widely criticized campaign after only eight months. The chain's agency is Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson Worldwide.
“We don’t have to be folksy to be what the Wendy’s brand is,” said Mr. Rowden. “The Wendy’s brand has always had a little attitude. Dave had a little attitude and he pushed things differently, but the way the brand was personified through him made it more folksy.”
Period of transition
“The offerings consumers faced in our world have changed a lot,” he said. “Our competitors quite simply got better at what they do, and Wendy’s has been in a period of transition, particularly from an advertising perspective. We have been somewhat out of the dialogue over time, and it’s time for us to take some fairly decisive action on a number of fronts.”
That includes bringing new products to market faster, taking advantage of its reputation for quality service and better advertising...
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