Wendy’s Changes Creative Course

NEW YORK Wendy’s is putting its red wig back in the box.

The No. 3 burger chain said today that it would end its controversial “That’s right” campaign. The spots, airing since May, showed red wig-wearing protagonists giving impassioned speeches about how they “deserve a hot juicy burger.”

Next week the ads will be canned in favor of the new “Waaaay better than fast food. It’s Wendy’s” TV spots that focus primarily on the chain’s quality food.

Now almost six years after founder Dave Thomas’ death, the chain is still struggling to find an identity. While “Mr. Wendy” and other offerings failed to resonate with consumers, the red wig campaign was especially polarizing among critics and franchisees.

The brainchild of former CMO Ian Rowden, who recently vacated his post, it failed ultimately because it “has not sufficiently driven performance,” said the company in a statement.

Wendy’s total revenue remained flat in the third quarter, growing less than 1 percent to $631.1 million, per the company.

“Our quality food will be the hero of our advertising once again,” said CEO Kerrii Anderson in a statement. “This evolution of our advertising approach is based on extensive consumer research over the last eight months, working in close collaboration with our agency partners and our franchise advertising committee.”

The new campaign by Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners, New York, was unveiled today at the company’s annual convention in Orlando, Fla. Ads will star an animated version of the iconic Wendy character. In one, Wendy will wield a fishing rod to promote the fast feeder’s new hand-cut, North Pacific codfish sandwich. In another, to tout the brand’s Super Value Menu, Wendy will clutch a small piggy bank.

Wendy’s spent $280 million on measured media for the first 11 months of 2007, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

“We must raise the bar in 2008,” Anderson said. “To reinvigorate sales growth, we are executing our strategic plan, focusing on strengthening operations, launching new products and taking decisive action.”