Hey Wendy’s, Where’s The Beef!?

It is now nearly two months after the Wendy’s fast food chain announced that it was updating its branding and environment.  Wendy’s had coverage and articles all over  though they knew they weren’t changing over until March of 2013. Its understandable that changeovers cannot happen with the snap of a finger. But, did they have to make a big bang about it six months ahead of time? Was there a strategy in Wendy’s announce strategy, or has the company responsible for “Where’s The Beef?” let the meat get a little cold?

Wendy's Old and New Logo

Wendy’s Old and New Logo

I am not a Wendy’s fanatic, but I do appreciate a couple of fries dipped in a Frosty drink every once in a while.  With that, I’ve had my eye on any change in marketing or signage to help make a smooth transition from the imagery of the past three decades into the future. Strangely, I’ve seen nothing of the sort and have even seen an on-air media cycle that goes full bore with the old branding.

It might not be a surprise that Wendy’s is still holding on to the past.  Their slogan has always been Old-Fashioned Hamburgers and there is an odd bit of values presentation in the restaurants with Dave Thomas’ image and his signature on posters.  On a side note – I totally respect the use of the deceased founder of the company and the food values under his image – I just find the bizarre facsimile autograph style that insinuates that he has personally signed off on these posters from the grave. But all of this really plays into how much the franchise values its history and old-fashioned ideals AND highlights that it is a big step to go in this new direction.

Wendy’s is missing an opportunity.  Either they missed it by announcing the switch too early, or they’re missing it now by not leveraging existing spends to create anticipation for the forthcoming transition to the new. Hell, they could even be playful and relate it to the atmosphere of most everyone who can’t wait for 2012 to be over and the Economy to grow. Either way, they continue to spend a lot of money on propping up the three-decade-old look of the brand.

I can buy into CEO Emil Brolick’s attempt to modernize the brand and reposition it as a high-end burger joint, but just get on with it.  Any buzz that could have been generated by the press coverage will surely dissipate by March.  If you knew about the March timing, did the announce have to come so soon?  And if it had to come so soon, couldn’t there be smarter awareness programs to bridge the gap?  The worst thing that could come out of this is the redesign of all the restaurants and the change alone not generating excitement that drives sampling.  It would have been a whole lot easier to keep that buzz going by doing any of the things listed above – otherwise, people might not care enough about the beef.

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