Where's the beef? Tucked into Wendy's new seven-grain bun, that's where.
The fast-food chain that turned a simple question about the location of ground meat into a national punch line today launches a six-week, multimillion-dollar marketing campaign to try to convince the health-conscious among us that its menu items are low in calories and high in nutrition.
No little old lady will be the center of this broadcast and print media blitz. Instead, three separate ads will feature young women: a college student, a softball pitcher and an "unspecified" professional who says she looks so pretty because she eats at Wendy's.
Other than the new ads and bun, however, not much will change on the menu at the 3,000 restaurants owned or franchised by the Dublin, Ohio-based company. Several items, like pasta salad, will be added to existing salad bars.
Otherwise, customers will be reminded about Wendy's fare that has been available for sometime. For example, a company spokesman said, ads will tout the plain baked potato, an item of less than 250 calories that has been available but largely unnoticed since the early 1980s, when Wendy's started offering baked potatoes with a variety of stuffings.
Fast Food 'Lightness'
Wendy's acknowledges that its main aim is to "draw the public's attention" to the "lightness" of the fast food it offers.
Like many fast-food chains nationwide, Wendy's is trying to diversify from the American triumvirate of hamburgers, french fries and cola and cash in on the growing number of weight-conscious lunchtime crowd, especially working women.
"Historically, women have been interested in healthy food," a company spokesman said, "but our research also tells us that more and more men are eating salads, too, especially at lunchtime. And a lot of men are asking for that (seven-grain) bun."
The campaign is part of a strategy adopted in 1979, when Wendy's introduced salad bars. That was followed by the introduction of a chicken sandwich in 1981 and then baked potatoes.
"What we are really saying is that people have a choice," the spokesman said, echoing the strategy of chains such as Taco Bell, which has begun featuring a salad bar, or Naugles, which offers hamburgers beside its tacos, or McDonald's, whose Chicken McNuggets have ignited a marketing war of their own.
Wendy's would not disclose the cost of the new ad campaign, which was created by Dancer, Fitzgerald & Sample in New York.
A spokesman for the fast-food chain said Wendy's has been test marketing the ad strategy for about a year in several cities, although none in California.