Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Square one

Oh, Wendy's. When you mercifully abandoned the red wig campaign, I was right there with you. And when you introduced your new ad campaign and some people didn't like it, I backed you up. But here you are, backsliding into the realm of lazy comedy. If you can even call what follows "comedy."

[Wendy sticks an "I *heart* BACON" button on the screen]

Is anyone else sensing the crushing irony here?

Woman: "This salad is really good, you want a bite?"

All right! Score a point for Wendy's. They have salads, which are actually pretty decent alternatives from a health standpoint if you find yourself with little more than fast food options for lunch. In fact, the healthy-living site SparkPeople recently posted an article about healthy choices at the major fast-food joints and specifically cited Wendy's Mandarin Chicken Salad. But I'm confused - why the bacon button to lead a commercial about healthy salads? Uh oh.

Man: "No, no, thank you, I'm a meatatarian."

This isn't The OED Wizards, so I'm going to ignore the improper etymological construction of that fake word (except to note it here so everyone can see how smart I am) and focus more on the fact that Wendy's thinks this is funny. What a concept! A guy who - I'm going to presume before even transcribing any more of the ad - only eats meat, and consequently rejects vegetables. Wendy's: We may have really good salads... if you're some kind of girl. By the way, if this concept seems a bit familiar, that's because it kind of is.

Woman: [extremely long pause, during which she isn't sure whether to be incredulous or disgusted and opts instead for near-total blankness]: "A what?"
Man: "A meatatarian? I only eat meat - beef, bacon? You know, meatatarian?"

I hate you. What is it with Wendy's and these horrible smug pitchmen? Really, I hate the entire trope - recognizable from those appalling Comcast ads - of pretending that a word you just made up is actually a common English word and that the person in the ad who doesn't recognize it is a moron. It's a lazy joke and insults the intelligence of the audience. Plus the dialogue here isn't tremendously logical - the guy clearly eats cheese and wheat, two things that are not meat products. And when he says "I only eat meat - beef, bacon," is it because those are the only two meats he eats, because he thinks those are the only two meats in existence, or because he thinks the woman is so stupid that she needs examples of meat listed off for her? For that matter, why don't they just have the guy say he's a Baconatarian if they're going to do it this way? For that matter, this guy is a fucking jerkoff.

Woman: "...oh."
Man: "It's a personal choice. You have to commit to it, you know?"

Yeah, by all means, commit to eating 830 calories in sandwich form at every meal. We can also see that he has fries and a drink on the table (two other things that are not meat). Assuming that's a medium fries and a medium Sprite, he has 1450 calories in front of him, 71 grams of fat (26 saturated), 142 grams of carbohydrates and 2,290 milligrams of sodium. Recommended intakes vary, but that's around 100% of your fat (and saturated fat) and sodium, and between 60 and 70 percent of your calories. In one sitting. Then, of course, you have to have dinner. The meatatarian's dinner? Another Baconator, presumably. I guess this is all right if you're Don Gorske, but that's 2900 calories from two square-burger meals (haw!), far too much for the average adult.

Other things that this guy should commit to:

* An exercise program
* Saving up for quintuple-bypass surgery
* Making out his will

Wendy: "The Wendy's Baconator. Six strips of hickory smoked bacon, on two quarter-pound patties of fresh, never frozen beef. It's waaaay better than fast food. It's Wendy's."

I guess if you're going to be eating this horribly, you might as well do it at Wendy's. That's not exactly an endorsement.

Wendy: "Have a way better shake way later. Enjoy a hand-spun Frosty shake late at night."

Top off that Baconator with a chocolate shake! Even the small is another 410 calories. I know that railing against how bad fast food is for you is pretty old at this point, and not exactly the mission of this site, but even the stupidest ads that are just stupid aren't as offensive as the kind that pitch 1500-calorie meals as a "lifestyle choice," even if it's intended as humor. (It's not like Wendy's doesn't want you eating at Wendy's all the time. "What are you, here for another Baconator? I don't think so, pal. Go home and have some fresh fruit." And given that they effectively mocked their own healthier choices within this ad... well, it makes you wonder, doesn't it?)

To get back to straight ad criticism, the animated Wendy's hand reaching for the for-real shake really creeps me the fuck out, especially because she's wearing an outfit that today is only seen on circus clowns.


Quivering P. Landmass said...

It's a shame because we thought Wendy's was headed in the right direction -- the direction of making sense. And, plus, they have a pretty interesting menu -- baked potatoes, lots of salads -- shit that isn't terrible for you. And instead of playing up that angle, they go pandering to Burger King's market.

I think Wendy's went dumpster diving outside the office of Crispin Porter + Bogusky and found this script crumpled up in a corner. They switched "Whopper" to "Baconator" and -- boom -- instant classic.

Aleph J. Null said...

I'm going to disagree a little bit with you hear. Not on quality, because it is lazy. But I'm going to argue that "meatatarian," before the "I only eat meat - beef, bacon?" line, is plausible with the food he's ordered. A vegetarian also can eat wheat, and also can drink a softdrink, right? I wouldn't leave a comment if I hadn't had to think hard on this one so many times when it came on thinking the same stuff.

By the way, great blog. I'm totally drawn in by commercial advertising and I love reading your take on it.

Aleph J. Null said...

*here. Sorry. Past my bedtime.

Anonymous said...

"The meatatarian's dinner? Another Baconator, presumably"

Well, he's a meatatarian, not a baconatortarian. So maybe for dinner he'll have a grilled steak or something.