.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;} Making Sense: e-Digest of Brand Thinking

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Open season on Wendy's

This is old news, but Wendy's is off the hook chili-wise. They discovered that the severed finger found in their chili was put there by the same women who reported finding it there in the first place. The undeserved bad press from that incident combined with some branding and marketing issues is creating an uphill challenge for Wendy's marketing department.

In an article in today's BRANDWEEK, Wendy's CMO Ian Rowden characterized Wendy's current situation as a "perfect storm" that has descended upon the brand, stressing that "we face some challenging times." (Okay, it's time to stop using a "perfect storm.")

"During a press conference on Thursday, May 19 at ad agency McCann Erickson's New York headquarters, Rowden candidly described the damage the now infamous finger hoax, its competitors' successful turnaround efforts and the lack of a cohesive ad campaign have done to the once-darling of the fast food industry. 'The offerings consumers faced in our world have changed a lot and choices they have changed a lot,' Rowden said. 'Our competitors quite simply got better at what they do, and Wendy's has been in a period of transition, particularly from an advertising perspective. We have been somewhat out of the dialogue over time, and it's time for us to take some fairly decisive action on a number of fronts.'

What he's really talking about here is reconnecting with the customer, something that founder Dave Thomas did very well. Today, Wendy's marketing plan looks like a potpourri of initiatives. They seem to be casting about for the right something that works. Personally, I was never that excited about Wendy's hamburgers -- the grayish color in their cooked hamburger patty made it look boiled.

Overstating the obvious department: Eric Dezenhall, principal with Dezenhall Resources, a marketing firm that advises major corporations on crisis strategy, said in The New York Times, that Wendy's future marketing strategy should one "that does not involve getting more attention for that finger."

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