Behind every good company is an even better slogan. In case youre confused as to what this means, wed like to ask you a few questions. Where do you go when youre “lovin it?” What do you wear when you want to “just do it?” Where do you go to “eat fresh?” Where is the “Happiest Place on Earth?” Chances are youve probably rattled off McDonalds Nike, Subway, and Disney World without a second thought.
Chron Small Business describes a good slogan as “fusing business or product promises with consumer perceptions in a communication process that signals unique benefits compared to your competition.” A good slogan is not only catchy and gets the consumers attention, but promotes the product or service as a cut above the rest or a type of exclusive lifestyle or choice. An even better slogan sells you the product before you even buy it.
In 1984, hamburger magnate Wendys launched a new slogan that not only quickly found a home in our common vernacular but also raised a particular question on the lips of every discerning American. The commercial itself is, at first glance, notable only for its simplicity: three elderly women inspect a hamburger thats more bun than beef patty. Enraged, one of the women, played by Clara Peller, shouts the famous question: “Wheres the Beef?”
What exactly is the story behind “Wheres the Beef?” What made it so popular in the eyes of the public? And whatever happened to leading lady Miss Clara Peller?
Where’s The Beef Commercial
The “Wheres the beef” television commercial was for the fast food chain Wendys, and its famous catchphrase is now used in many contexts when questioning the substance or validity of something. Not only was Wendys trying to catch the publics attention, they were also throwing shade on their competitors, Burger King and McDonalds. The marketing team was led by William Welter at the time, the executive vice president of Wendys International and the advertising agency they used was Dancer Fitzgerald Sample.
The goal was to make the point that the Wendys hamburger is just as big as the Big Mac and Whopper, and Wendys accomplished this in a hilarious and creative way. In the ad, which was titled “Fluffy Bun,” an elderly lady is served a burger with a gigantic bun from a fictional competitor, whose slogan is “Home of the Big Bun.” The tiny patty on the bun causes the woman, acted by Clara Peller, to indignantly ask, “Wheres the beef?” The director, Joe Sedelmaier, told Peller to say “Where is all the beef?” but that was too difficult because of Pellers emphysema.
Although Peller was the one whos line took the public by storm, there were actually three elderly ladies at the Big Bun burger joint. The other two ladies investigated and poked the massive bun, making confused observations like “It certainly is a big bun. Its a very big bun. Its a big fluffy bun.” One of the ladies eventually lifts the top of the bun to show an exaggeratedly tiny hamburger bun with cheese and pickle. This is the moment where Peller angrily asks after the beef.
Wendys had originally tried the tv commercial with a bald man exclaiming the famous catchphrase, but that didnt have quite the same effect. Sequels to the original commercial show Peller yelling at Fluffy Bun executives over the phone and showing up to the “Home of the Big Bun” drive-thru, but the drive-up window was slammed down before she could yell her famous line.
The Catchphrase in Pop Culture
After the Wendys commercial was released on January 10, 1984, the catchphrase was an immediate hit. Along with the hilarious sequels, there was merchandise made, from Frisbees to T-shirts to bumper stickers, and even a board game was created. Peller even recorded a “Wheres the Beef?” single with Nashville songwriter and disc jockey Coyote McCloud, which became a hit song that promoted Wendys restaurants.
The ad was so successful that Wendys annual revenue skyrocketed, increasing by 31%. The catchphrase was even a part of the 1984 presidential election when Democratic candidate and former Vice President Walter Mondale asked “Wheres the beef?” to criticize rival Gary Harts insubstantial campaign. When Mondale then lost to Reagan, the ads director Joe Sedelmaier remarked, “If Walter Mondale could have said the line like Clara, he would have been our president.”
The question was meant to call out other burger chains
“Wheres the Beef?” in modern-day slang refers to an idea or product that is more filler than it is actual substance. In fact, the phrase even became a brief part of American politics when, during the 1984 presidential primary, Democratic candidate Walter Mondale sneered the slogan as a criticism of opponent Gary Harts ideas (via Center for Strategic and International Studies). But back in the 1980s, “Wheres the Beef” was meant to be more literal; a sort of “call-out” to other big-name burger restaurants like McDonalds and Burger King.
According to Better Marketing, Wendys created the campaign to call attention to just how much more beef you get on your Wendys burger than from other restaurants. In one Wendys Single hamburger, the campaign promised, you would be getting more beef per buck. Why bother getting a Quarter Pounder or a Whopper when you could supposedly get a Wendys burger that will give you more beef than the other guys?
To this end, the company hired director Joe Sedelmaier to direct the ad — but where did the famous Miss Clara Peller come in? Peller was a retired manicurist around the time and had starred in one commercial before simply as an extra, but her tough attitude and voice captivated the commercial agency. The agency signed Peller on as an actress, thus leading to her being chosen by the Wendys team to star in the famed commercial.
Sep 27, 2021 · Cliff Freeman NOTE: This video is posted strictly for Duration: 0:34Posted: Sep 27, 2021
Why did Wendy’s say where’s the beef?
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