Wendy's Advertising Not Awesome, Baby!
Wendy’s has turned to the most unimaginative, mundane and banal advertising strategy. It’s sooooo not awesome, baby.
But, the company isn’t going for awards, it wants to sell burgers. And, in the hugely competitive quick-service restaurant category, it's looking to attract attention. Enter Dick Vitale in TV spots.
Though effectiveness cannot be measured until the cash register rings, the brand will get noticed. ESPN’s Vitale can be counted on to deliver quick-service share of voice.
With spots playing off his indelible “It’s Awesome Baby” expression, the stentorian college hoops commentator – a BTBer (big-time bellower) -- can generate instant brand recognition
That’s not to say affection. He can bring plenty of fatigue. Lots of people find him grating, though probably fewer than years ago. He’s moved towards a sort of beloved wacky-uncle status.
Risk or not, Wendy’s is rolling out a major brand refashioning and needs a sure thing to make noise. And that is Vitale.
But with Dickie V, Wendy’s is going with advertising's version of lowest-hanging fruit: “I’m a celebrity, look at me -- no matter the reason." This may be the first time the bald Vitale has been mentioned in the same sentence as Brad Pitt, but that’s what Chanel has quizzically been doing with the Hollywood star.
Actually, Wendy’s may have a better claim to relevance than the perfume marketer with much of the country turning its attention to March Madness. Presumably, Vitale will be pitching burgers over the next month or so as the tournament unfolds.
In one spot, Vitale plugs the Baconator with “It’s going to be awesome, baby, with a capital A!" A chance to win lunch with Vitale and a $5,000 gift card is also mentioned.
The Wendy’s would-be reinvention includes a new logo, new packaging and crew uniforms and “image activation” at restaurants with the installation of fireplaces, flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi.
While Wendy’s deserves some digs for going the easy route, Vitale's ability to land yet another major endorsement opportunity deserves admiration. “It’s Awesome Baby” has been money.
Has another celebrity cashed in so much on a single saying? Plenty of pitch-people have found a phrase that pays, but what makes Vitale unique is his catchphrase has traveled from brand to brand.
From Taco Bell two decades ago to DiGiorno years later to Hooters recently and now to Wendy’s -- there have probably been other campaigns -- Vitale has promoted something essentially with just an enthusiastic “Baby!” He's landed deals with at least four restaurant chains (add Papa John’s). Michael Jordan had Coke and Gatorade, but how many others get work from competitors?
With endorsement income, Vitale certainly has dined on one heck of a dollar menu. He'll make Wendy’s stand out. But bring awesome revenues? It's pretty frosty terrain with kings and Big Macs.