September 13, 2016 @ 12:00am

What is it?

In 1984, Wendy’s took a stab at its competitors’ burgers by creating a commercial located in an unknown fast food restaurant with three old ladies. Two were admiring the big bun on the burger, but the third asks an important question that soon becomes a pop culture sensation.


Why it’s good

The old woman, played by 80-year-old Clara Peller, had one line and it stuck. “Where’s the beef?” was all the commercial needed. People remembered it and associated it to Wendy’s. It’s a silly exaggeration that makes a point, giving Wendy’s a lighthearted positive image that also serves more beef than its competitors. Clara Peller was chosen to be the “bull in the China shop,” and the ad worked so well because of Peller. This commercial is short and simple, and sometimes that’s all you need to make something memorable.

Was it successful?

“Where’s the beef?” is a phrase still used today and it has evolved to become an all-purpose phrase questioning the substance of a product or idea. The commercial itself was a huge hit, earning 3.6 million views on YouTube. Peller starred in sequels of the commercial and the campaign sparked the creation of merchandise. Wendy’s revenue increased 31 percent in 1984 and the phrase, “where’s the beef?” even made an appearance in the 1984 presidential campaign.

About the author: Wayne Harris

Wayne Harris is the President of 6AM Marketing.

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