Wendy's Dumps Pigtailed Pitchman

Jan 28, 2008

After only eight months, Wendy's is scrapping its commercials featuring young men in red Wendy wigs with pigtails. The Dublin based fast food chain says the ads generated attention -- but haven't resulted in stronger sales.

Wendy's has a history of advertising hits. Remember Clara Peller?

The "Where's the beef?" slogan was so popular in the mid-1980s that presidential contender Walter Mondale used it during a debate.

Then came the ad campaign featuring Dave Thomas, Wendy's founder. The series was so popular that Thomas made hundreds of commercials until his death five years ago.

But Wendy's latest icon, the red-wigged pitchman, was canned Monday after only eight months on the air.

Thomas' widow Lorraine told USA Today last September that the ads were "idiotic," the worst she'd ever seen. A Wendy's executive says people either loved or hated them.

That was the case among diners Monday at a Wendy's in Columbus. Ben Johnson and James Hillstrom were having lunch.

"I think it's ridiculous," Johnson said. "I don't get the point of having someone with pigtails on there."

"It's not so much a guy running around with red pigtails," said Hillstrom, "the ads were just weird. Like the commercials had a weird plot to them, a weird idea. Like people kicking tree stumps."

Angela Atwater and Carrie Wright both say the liked the ads.

"I thought they were funny," Atwater says. "I don't know if they were effective but they got my attention."

"I thought they were hilarious, you know with the man wearing the red pigtails. You know, Wendy's."

The company has unveiled a new campaign today featuring the slogan, "It's waaaay better than fast food. It's Wendy's." The red wig will be back, but the focus is on an animated Wendy from the company's logo.

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