Two (Very) Old Friends Recall the Glories of 1934 in Charming Ads for Steak ‘n Shake

Percy and Walter's journey through the past

Nothing sells fast food like cranky old people reminiscing and/or bickering with each other.

That's what GSD&M is hoping, because their three new spots for Steak 'n Shake depend on it. The three ads star Percy and Walter, whose recollections of 1934 (the year Steak 'n Shake was founded) are dim at best. All three spots were directed by Joachim Back, who won an Oscar for his short film The New Tenants back in 2010.

In "You Can't Trust Machines," Walter goes on a measured rant about powdered milkshakes and veers dangerously close to bringing up the onion on his belt before the ad cuts to the official Steak 'n Shake pitch.

"Steak 'n Shake 'n Shave n' Shoeshine 'n Suit" makes fun of exaggerated stories about how cheap everything was when our grandparents were young, as Percy explains what $4 got him back in the '30s. (The visual of the unbalanced sign falling down is great.) His anecdote totally ignores the brutal reality of segregation at that point in history, but that's a heavy topic for a fast-food ad, so I get it.

"Breakfast" is another winner, as Percy—who is really driving the comedy team by this point—explains his role in coining the term "homestyle breakfast."

Now that they've got my attention, the polite thing for Steak 'n Shake to do would be to open a Maryland location that isn't in BWI airport or Glen Burnie.

Client: Steak 'n Shake
Campaign: Done Right Since 1934
"Smiling Contest" – "Shoeshine" – "You Can't Trust Machines" – "Breakfast"

Agency: GSD&M
Chief Creative Officer: Jay Russell
Group Creative Directors: Kris Wixom/Alisa Wixom
Art Director: Erin Stevens
Creative Director: Brett Baker
Director of Production: Jack Epsteen
Executive Producer: Bill Wine
Account Service: Mark Durein, Lauren Paver
Marketplace Planning: John D'Acerino, Nick Howard
Business Affairs Manager: Jillian English
Project Manager: Maria Roepke

Production Company for Video
Prod Company: Anonymous Content
Director: Joachim Back
Editor: Cartel/Andy McGraw

Food Stylist: Alyssa Sarfity

Production Company for Food
Prod Company: MacGuffin Films
Director: Kevan Bean
Stylist: Nir Adar

Sound Design: Doug Darnell/Robot Repair