Wendy's and PETA offer divergent takes on America’s meat shortage in print ads
The slowdown in U.S. meat processing due to COVID-19, which has led to shortages for some restaurants and retailers, has now also driven two marketers to spend on ads about the topic.
Wendy’s and PETA are clearly not in the same camp about what the meat industry slowdown means for consumers, yet both felt the urge to get their point across in Sunday’s New York Times.
Wendy’s is facing limited shortages of fresh beef at a few of its restaurants. After discussing the matter with Wall Street last week, on May 10 it ran an ad on the back of the business section of The New York Times. The full-page ad, found on page 12 of the business section and online, says “Where’s the Beef?” in a nod to its 1980s campaign. While the original tagline was meant as a dig to competitors with smaller burgers, it’s now being used when diners find Wendy’s locations lacking burgers.
In the ad, Wendy’s says it believes “fresh beef is the only way to make a great-tasting hamburger, even in a national beef shortage.” Wendy’s campaign comes from VMLY&R, with Spark Foundry on media. Wendy’s also ran the ad on social media and some details are included on its site. And while Wendy's is definitely on team hamburger, as its ad asserts, it is also working on plant-based products it will launch “at the appropriate time,“ CEO Todd Penegor said last week.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, meanwhile, declared in all caps, “America: it’s time to move away from meat” with its full-page ad on page 10 of Sunday's Times. The ad, which was created in-house, includes a large image of a cow in muck—PETA says it’s a cow on a dairy farm—and suggests the U.S. meat industry’s “factory farms and slaughterhouses are as filthy as ‘wet markets’ anywhere in the world,” a reference to the market in Wuhan, China, where the novel coronavirus was found in 2019.
PETA’s ad also says that “a meat shortage isn’t a food shortage.” It comes after President Donald Trump in late April signed an executive order about the slaughterhouse slowdowns and closures. The legalese in the order is a bit murky, so here’s a take on it from Daniel Hemel in The Washington Post.
PETA said it was running similar ads in newspapers including the Post and the Los Angeles Times and plans to have one in the Washington Examiner this week.