Tag Archives: Environment

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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Begging the Question – Is Questionable Execution Worth A Good Buzz?

Just like most marketers, I’m always looking for innovative ways to draw attention and get the message out.  Sometimes, a bunch of buzz is generated for an execution that seems – on the surface – like it is a brilliant use of the technology.  Unfortunately, when you actually check it out, it leaves a little to be desired when it comes to actually conveying the product’s narrative.  One such case is the French adventure/outdoor products company, Quechua, and the Facebook Timeline piece they launched yesterday to launch their new commercial. The concept was cool, but in practice, the experience was clunky and actually acted counter to the product they were trying to promote.  It certainly begs the question whether buzz about marketing products is good even when that execution is not all it can be.

The Quechua Experiment is getting buzz specifically as the “First Scrollable Commercial on Facebook Timeline.”  I don’t know how much people were waiting for that feat to be attained, but the buzz it’s generating is technically correct. In this case, is that such a cool thing or just a media hook?  When a user goes to www.facebook.com/QuechuaExperiment, they are asked to scroll down on their timeline and push the equivalent “more” button 15 times.  Once at the bottom, press both the SHIFT and SPACE buttons to start the frame-by-frame movement upwards through the images in the Timeline.

Essentially, they are trying to explain the benefits of their 2 second tent with a web mechanic that, annoyingly, takes much longer to experience. When you look at the “video”, it provides beautiful imagery that makes people want to camp out in the wilderness and, at the end, shows how simple it is to break the tent down when you are done. It’s frustrating because we always talk about how interactivity makes the experience deeper for the user – yet this interactivity takes away from the original source of the information, which is the beautiful video.  If all you are getting is another version of the video, is it worth it? It should have been as quick and simple as the “flick of a wrist” that it takes to set up the tent…

Courtesy of Quechua

The company seems to be cutting-edge in general – not just in the materials they use, but in their marketing.  One such example is a beautiful commercial for their products – melding the campers and the environment beautifully – and then enabling a rich behind the scenes environment through technology to explore more. I give them and their agency, Fred + Farid credit for trying new things with this Facebook Timeline execution, but I think the actual mechanics of it miss the mark.

I can’t fault them as they are getting buzz about it. I’m just saddened when a good mechanic is not optimized to become a great marketing product.  With the emphasis being placed on being the first ones to try something, you really want that “first time” to be something really special.  I don’t feel they’ll get anything negative from this and I definitely wouldn’t have known about their products had it not been for the buzz – so that’s a positive for them.  I’m just looking at it as a marketing product, and the full mechanic didn’t convey the product benefits as best it could have. I almost would have rather them had a tongue-in-cheek message that it will take longer for the user to experience the marketing than it would to either set up the tent or take it down.

In the end, I would rather the good buzz support a good marketing mechanic – something that better conveys the product. Additionally, except for in the most extreme cases, buzz is mostly good for a product. I’m always up for some good buzz – I just get disheartened when it leads to a marketing execution that is not all it could have been.

Positioning the Brand For the Rebound

Just because the economy is bad and your brand is not enjoying the growth it has been seeing previously doesn’t mean you have to hunker down and keep doing what you’re doing.  In previous posts, we’ve mentioned ways you can use the downtime to get stronger either in your existing business, business practices or innovation.  But, what about in your branding? 

Please don’t go out and update your branding just because business is slow, but perhaps now is the time to take an objective look at whether your business or brand needs to be re-positioned and see if you might be best served to work on that in a down time so that when the economy’s outlook brightens, consumers can also get a new outlook on your product.  When the economy rebounds, it is not certain that consumers will return to the products they were using before.  As such, it may be assumed that they will be looking at new ones to take their place either based on revised personal or business priorities.

It doesn’t even need to be a major overhaul.  It can be a tag line or a simple change in part of your logo or identity.  Have you changed the way you do your business that provides benefit to something other than your bottom line – community, environment, lifestyle, etc. – that may connect with a new type of consumer?  Have you been lying low after embarrassing business situations where a new identity or even the conveyance of a new corporate consciousness could help you rise from the nadir?

Effectively, you always need to be aware of how things have changed and the affect it has on your branding – even in good times. Make the most of what is happening in the world around you to ensure that you are best suited to move forward smoothly upon the rebound in the economy.