Wendy's Changes Tagline, Leaves Red's Future Up in the Air

New Campaign Touts Revamped Burger, Without the Help of Familiar Character

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Wendy's has moved away from its "Now that's better" tagline and is adopting one it says is more overt about Wendy's promise: "Deliciously different."

The new tagline for the No. 3 burger chain will begin appearing in the company's marketing on Friday, with TV ads that promote the company's recently overhauled burgers. Dubbed the Dave's Single (and Double and Triple), the burger replaces the chain's existing standard burgers and is a throwback to the original recipe, said Kurt Kane, the company's chief concept and marketing officer. The burgers include a new bun that's "inspired" by the burger as it existed in 1969 along with foil packaging that's also a nod to the packaging of yore.

As for why the company changed taglines, Mr. Kane said that although Wendy's has always positioned itself as different from its competitors, and while "Now that's better" has worked for the brand, "we decided on 'Deliciously different' because customers consistently tell us what we do at Wendy's is unique and different from what they they get elsewhere….we have a powerful brand story to talk about in terms of how we do things differently in QSR, and we wanted to be overt about it."

The main difference, of course, is a positioning that Wendy's has long taken, which is that its beef is fresh, not frozen like many of its competitors. In one new ad, called "Where's the beef….from?," the company plays on its classic '80s tagline, but adds a twist by addressing sourcing, a trend that's been popular with consumers in recent years.

The ad's voice-over notes that "Where's the beef?" has taken on a new meaning, as some beef competitors' meat comes from as far away as Australia and thus needs to be frozen. Mr. Kane said the company wanted to point out that Wendy's uses beef from close enough sources that it doesn't need to be frozen.

Noticeably absent in the TV ads, created by WPP's VML, is the Red character the chain has employed since her debut in the first half of 2012. Though she appeared in ads as recently as December, she wasn't in other ads during the fall. Mr. Kane said that although she will not be in the ads for the new burger campaign, "we haven't made any permanent decisions" on whether Wendy's will retire her altogether. "She's very identifiable, so we're still evaluating her future."

The chain will also have Hispanic-focused ads created by WPP's Bravo. Other elements of the campaign include "Easter eggs" in the TV spots that will encourage consumers to interact with Wendy's on digital media like social and a website specific to the campaign. One of those Easter eggs is a mention in the ad of a website called www.othr-guyz.com, which will be a working website that houses videos and other digital marketing components.

One unique element to the campaign will be with Google's app. If users ask the app "Where's the beef?" they will get a variety of answers, though Mr. Kane declined to offer some examples, noting that he wanted users to be surprised.

Wendy's in 2014 spent about $347 million in U.S. advertising, according to Ad Age's Datacenter.

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