Monday, January 28, 2008

Hate to say I told you so

Usually, we here at The Ad Wizards don't talk much about the results of particular campaigns we've mocked, unless there's a specific impetus to do so in the comments section. We see an ad that we don't like, we hate it, we make fun of it, and we move on. However, given that I personally wrote about Wendy's "red wig" campaign on three separate occasions, I figured I might as well pass along the good news - Wendy's is giving up the fight.

The change comes after the chain reported this month that sales at stores opened at least a year — considered a key indicator of a retailer's strength — fell 0.8% at U.S. company restaurants in the fourth quarter compared with a 3.1% increase in the fourth quarter of 2006. At franchise restaurants, same-store sales were up 0.2% for the quarter, compared with a 2.7% increase the year before.

For the year, same-store sales rose 0.9% for company stores and 1.9% for franchise stores compared with a 0.8% increase in U.S. company stores and a 0.6% increase at U.S. franchise stores in 2006.

After reaching a high of $44.22 last summer, Wendy's stock price has been cut nearly in half, with trading Monday morning at $23.54, just above its 52-week low of $22.48.

We've said it all along - bad ads don't drive sales. People were aware of the Wendy's campaign, but they were aware of it in that "Hey, did you see that crazy ad with the wig dudes?" sense, not in the "Let's all go to Wendy's and get some burgers" sense, which is the one that you're more interested in if you're Wendy's. Ads like the infamous "Air Supply burger" spot (click the "occasions" link above) are too reliant on gimmick - even as the pitchman in that spot rattles off what is ostensibly a list of enticing ingredients, we're distracted by his stupid hair, douchetacular tone, and the confounding use of the singing burger just seconds later. Ultimately, you can barely even tell what it's an ad for; at least one person who read my post on the ad found it by Googling "burger king air supply ad," which I think tells you pretty much everything you need to know on the subject.

Wendy's replacement campaign, as announced at their convention Monday, is based around a cartoon Wendy and the slogan, "It's waaaay better than fast food. It's Wendy's." Personally, I find that slogan a little stupid, but it's at least an improvement - "That's right" is one of the worst slogans in modern times, in large part because it's so crushingly vague. ("That's right! We are called Wendy's!") And the animated character seems likely to indicate that the ads are going to be a lot more straightforward, making them much more inoffensive, which can only be a good thing. Although I was sort of hoping that Wendy's was going to choose my idea for the campaign, a digitally-altered Clara Peller dancing with a vacuum cleaner.

So, yeah. Not to toot our own horn too much - after all, we've cited Burger King four times since starting this blog, and they haven't had any problem with sales - but, well, we told you so, Wendy's. Best of luck with an improved campaign in 2008.