Real Wendy Takes Star Turn in Wendy's Advertising

The Thomas Clan Back in Action in Test Markets

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CHICAGO ( -- The Thomas family is making a return to Wendy's advertising. A Wendy's ad featuring the real Wendy Thomas, the chain's namesake and daughter of founder Dave Thomas, broke Nov. 8 in Las Vegas as part of a promotion for a new test cheeseburger called Dave's Hot 'N Juicy Cheeseburger, named after Mr. Thomas.

Ms. Thomas' face has been part of the Wendy's brand since its founding in 1969, but the commercial marks the first time she's appeared in any ads. "Who better to introduce the line than Wendy herself? After all, Dave named the chain after her --- now she gets the opportunity to name our hottest and juiciest hamburgers after him," said Denny Lynch, senior VP-communications for Wendy's International, in an email. He added that commercial fits in with the current "You know when it's real" campaign.

The ad, produced by Publicis Groupe's Kaplan Thaler Group, is also airing in Virginia Beach, Va., and Mobile, Ala., -- two other test markets for Dave's Hot 'N Juicy Cheeseburger. As for plans of a national rollout of the test cheeseburger and the commercial, Mr. Lynch said that Wendy's customers will determine the next step, and the fast feeder will measure sales, customer transactions and consumer appeal.

Wendy's media agency is Publicis' MediaVest USA. According to WPP's Kantar Media, Wendy's Arby's Group, parent company of Wendy's , has spent $128.4 million on U.S. measured media for the Wendy's subsidiary. Spending for 2009 was $295.9 million.

The Las Vegas Sun, which carried a report about the ads, has also posted the ad itself:

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