VML Brings Back More ’90s Trends for Wendy’s

By Erik Oster 

Remember slang like “All that and a bag of chips,” frosted tips (on anyone other than Guy Fieri), and dial-up Internet? VML does … and it wants to bring back those cultural touchstones in its new digital campaign promoting the return of Wendy’s Taco Salad.

Entitled “We Need to Taco,” the campaign features a series of spots following a similar, retro-obsessed formula. In each, a teenager complains to their parents that, while they’re excited that Wendy’s Taco Salad is back, they are significantly less enthused about their mom or dad trying to bring back less desirable trends from the era.

In “Talk to the Hand” it’s a mom sporting a “Talk to the hand” t-shirt, while spouting similar slang to her daughter. Less than impressed, she expresses gratitude that her mom introduced her to Wendy’s Taco Salad but opines, “Just because it’s back from the 90s, doesn’t mean that slang should come back, too.”

Her mother’s reply? “As if.”

Other spots employ the approach to questionable hairstyles of the period (as once modeled by Thom Yorke) and, even more ridiculously, a father with a nostalgic appreciation for dial-up.

The approach celebrates the return of the menu item for the first time since the 90s at a time when 90s nostalgia seems at or near its peak. Finding a the right balance of ridiculous yet plausible is a difficult task, however. “Talk to the Hand” comes closest, with the interaction between mother and daughter coming across as almost believable, while “You’ve Got Salad” is an inbox too far.

Advertising Agency: VML, USA
Global Chief Creative Officer: Debbi Vandeven
Executive Creative Director: Chris Corley
Group Creative Director: Pat Piper
Creative Director: Tony Marin
Associate Creative Director: Jess Elwood
Senior Creative Director: Alison Radke
Copywriter: Francis LaBelle
Senior Producer: Michael Kinney
Associate Producer: Shae Mermis
Group Director: Jason Bass
Director / Client Engagement: Kelly Gartenmayer
Account Manager: Colin Belmont
Campaign Manager: Patty Ganaden
Production Companies: Station Films, MK Films
Director: Brendan Gibbons
Producers: Geoff Clough, Bennett Conrad
Editorial: Liquid 9
Editors: Ryan Lewis, Katie Wade
Production Coordinator: Kate Zadoo