McCann Does ‘Right Thing’ for Wendy’s

NEW YORK Wendy’s today unveiled a new national ad campaign from Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson.

The work for the Dublin, Ohio-based fast-food chain, which ranks third behind McDonald’s and Burger King, introduces the tagline “Do what tastes right,” which replaces “It’s better here.”

Ads largely eschew the folksy tone of past campaigns and take a stab at edgy humor.

In one spot touting the spicy chicken sandwich, a man sits at his dining room table unwrapping the item. Before he can pick it up, the spicy sandwich burns a hole through his table, falls into the apartment below, then into the parking garage, then into a subway car, and then into a tunnel, where two stunned workers stare at it before it falls to hell, where a red-suited demon finds it too hot to handle.

Ads promoting the overall brand, as well as specific products, will be in the media mix, which includes TV, radio, outdoor and online executions. The overall theme is the uniqueness of Wendy’s offering (such as offering square burgers instead of round) as well as the freshness of its ingredients and variety of menu choices.

The client spent $360 million on ads last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

During a press conference here today at McCann’s headquarters, client CMO Ian Rowden candidly described the damage the now infamous finger hoax, its competitors’ successful turnaround efforts and the lack of a cohesive ad campaign have done to the former darling of the fast-food industry.

“The offerings consumers faced in our world have changed a lot and choices they have changed a lot,” Rowden said.”Our competitors quite simply got better at what they do, and Wendy’s has been in a period of transition, particularly from an advertising perspective. We have been somewhat out of the dialogue over time, and it’s time for us to take some fairly decisive action on a number of fronts.”

Rowden said the overall Wendy’s marketing budget would increase this year, but he did not specify how much would be spent on measured media. He joined Wendy’s five months ago from Callaway Golf.

Ads break May 25 during the season finales of American Idol, Lost and Alias.

Wendy’s has struggled with finding the right ad approach since its founder and longtime pitchman Dave Thomas died three years ago.

The creative approach was notably in flux last year. McCann’s fictitious “Mr. Wendy,” a well-meaning but annoying, unofficial spokesman, made his debut last February but was out of ads by November.

New York-based McCann has held the account since August 2002.