Over 3 Decades Ago, Wendy’s Made History With ‘Where’s the Beef?’

In 1985, Adweek proclaimed Clara Peller 'America's first octogenarian star since George Burns'

Alas, Wendy's fired its white-haired sprite in 1985, after she appeared in a spot for Prego beef spaghetti sauce and proclaimed: "I found it!" Getty Images
Headshot of Robert Klara

Thirty-five years ago, Chicago ad agency Dancer Fitzgerald Sample cast a retired manicurist named Clara Peller in a Wendy’s ad. In the spot, Peller inspected a competing chain’s oversized bun and bleated: “Where’s the beef?”
The phrase saw Wendy’s sales jump 31 percent and fast became part of the American vernacular. (Alas, Wendy’s fired its white-haired sprite in 1985, after she appeared in a spot for Prego beef spaghetti sauce and proclaimed: “I found it!”)
Peller died in 1987, but not before the April 1, 1985 issue of Adweek proclaimed her “America’s first octogenarian star since George Burns” and asked the question on most everyone’s mind: Why doesn’t Wendy’s just change its name to Clara’s?


@UpperEastRob robert.klara@adweek.com Robert Klara is a senior editor, brands at Adweek, where he specializes in covering the evolution and impact of brands.