Sluggish Sales Scalp Saatchi

One thing you can say about the Wendy's "red wig" campaign is that it wasn't advertising-as-wallpaper. Not so the new ads. There's a fixin's bar full of reasons why the fast-food foister, after a year-long dalliance with Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, took most of its business down the street to MDC Partners' Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners at the end of January.

You could pin it on the fact that the Thomas family (including Wendy herself) never liked - and may have hated - the "red wig" campaign. Or that chief marketing officer Ian Rowden, who picked Saatchi in January of last year, resigned in December to go back to his native Australia. Or you could blame it on lackluster sales, which had declined in a year and a half. Maybe you can blame it on the King.

In response to whatever it was, the chain dropped the red-wig campaign like a red-headed step child for a more product-centric approach, though the early ads seem to be no less puzzling. The new ads, which broke in early February, talk less obtusely about the food. In one, for the chain's fish sandwich, a sing-songy woman's voiceover proclaims, "Everybody knows if you don't know what it
is, don't eat it." Right.

And the new tag? "It's Waaaay Better Than Fast Food. It's Wendy's." Nice one. As for the red wig: It's back on Wendy's head. The whimsical character, in that particular spot, becomes animated, taking out a fishing rod to catch her a fish sandwich. Wendy's: now managing to be both sort of bizarre and boring instead of merely weird.

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