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The Spot: Lame Duck

IDEA: The Aflac duck, American advertising's finest feathered friend, is nothing without his distinctive squawk. Or is he?

Wendy’s New ‘Where’s the Beef?’ Ads Not That Tasty

Wendy's has finally debuted its first new TV spots with the revived "Where's the beef?" as a marketing slogan. And while the improved burgers do look tasty, the ads, from The Kaplan Thaler Group, are far less substantial. The problem is, the phrase "Where's the beef?" has been used and abused so many times since its first appearance in 1984, it's lost any trace of a literal meaning. And the new ads don't really help salvage it. In one spot, actor Reid Ewing of Modern Family finds a "Where's the beef?" shirt at a thrift store and then wears it around town while people randomly shout the slogan at him. There's really not much else to it. (And it's a :60!) In another ad, posted after the jump, Wendy Thomas herself makes her first extended appearance as a spokesperson for the chain founded by her father, Dave Thomas. While less interesting in premise, that spot is probably the more successful of the two because it's asking you to care only about a new burger, not a slogan that hasn't been about burgers since Reagan's first term in office. 

Wendy’s Again Asking: ‘Where’s the Beef?’

In 1984, "Where's the beef?" became a rallying cry that helped Wendy's stand out in a fast-food industry hell-bent on downsizing and bastardizing the great American hamburger. It remains the chain's most successful advertising moment (and momentary the campaign was, ending just a year after it launched), so perhaps it's no surprise that Wendy's is resurrecting the line in an ad push from The Kaplan Thaler Group promoting the new Dave's Hot 'N Juicy Cheeseburgers, named for founder Dave Thomas. The New York Times posted one spot, in which the actual Wendy Thomas, daughter of Dave, says of the burgers: "These would've made Dad say, 'Here's the beef!' " In another spot, actor Reid Ewing of Modern Family wears a vintage "Where's the beef?" T-shirt around town, initially unaware of what it really means. You can understand why Wendy's would go back to the well like this, but in an age of caloric opulence and obesity, does the catchphrase carry the same weight? Skimpy burgers are almost unheard of these days, and grotesquely large slabs of beef have become marketing mainstays for chains like Carl's Jr. Sure enough, Wendy's is putting a new spin on the line, recasting "Where's the beef?" as a question of freshness instead of size. Which is good, since Wendy's and its wafer-thin burgers of the past 20 years have practically made White Castle look beefy by comparison. Full print ad after the jump.

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