What happens when you combine a half-pound double cheeseburger, a vintage style T-shirt, and an iconic slogan? Homegrown magic.
By now, it’s likely you’ve seen the Wendy’s TV commercial for Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy Cheeseburger in which a young man wearing a “Where’s the Beef?” T-shirt doesn’t understand why people are calling out the phrase until he sees a “Here’s the Beef” sign in one of the chain’s stores.
Well, the commercial −and the T− are the result of a collaboration between two Columbus-based companies: Wendy’s and HOMAGE.
“I interned with the Wendy’s marketing team during college and, during my experience there, gained an appreciation for the company’s brand heritage,” said Ryan Vesler, creative director at HOMAGE. “A few years later, I went back to some of the same folks with whom I had worked and presented the idea for a retro ‘Where’s the Beef?’ T-shirt. It wasn’t until the company decided to revive the ‘Where’s the Beef?’ campaign, however, that the project started to gain momentum.”
Ultimately it was worth the wait, since Wendy’s was able to build on Vesler’s original idea of selling T-shirts and blow it out by including the shirts in its advertising, said the company’s director of communications, Kitty Munger.
The original “Where’s the Beef?” campaign dates back to 1984, when actress Clara Peller famously uttered those very words after receiving a burger with a huge bun from a fictional competitor. The TV commercial caught on like wildfire and since then “Where’s the Beef?” has become shorthand for questioning the “meat” of a product, idea, or event.
“‘Where’s the Beef?’ is one of our best known advertising slogans,” Munger said. “We didn’t want to use it again until we had a product that matched that great slogan. After we gave our cheeseburgers a ‘taste lift’ and named them after our founder, Dave Thomas, we knew we had a product that can answer the question, ‘Where’s the Beef?’ It’s at Wendy’s!”
As whimsical as “Where’s the Beef?” may seem on the surface, the catchphrase has really come to embody things that are quite important to firms like Wendy’s and HOMAGE: quality, integrity, and value, Vesler said.
The HOMAGE team was able to take a look at the original Wendy’s T-shirt to mimic the distress, typeface, and placement of the graphic.
“I’m a big believer that attention to detail translates into authenticity,” he said.
HOMAGE’s version can be purchased online at HOMAGE.com and at the HOMAGE retail store at 17 Brickel St. in the Short North.
The commercial featuring the T-shirt will air throughout October during high profile national network and cable programming, including Sunday Night Football, The X Factor, and Two and a Half Men.
“After the campaign ends, we hope to continue offering the ‘Where’s the Beef?’ T-shirt for as a long as consumers seek it out,” Vesler said.