Where’s the Beef — Indeed!

Many readers will recall the Wendy’s ad from the 1980’s. with the little old lady asking — or rather demanding — to know “where’s the beef!”

That ad, one of the most popular of modern times wasn’t about where the beef used in Wendy’s burgers came from. It was a poke at competitors, whose hamburgers were often so small that you couldn’t find the patty hiding in the bun. Or so the little old lady said.

Flash forward to 2016, and this year’s Super Bowl. Wendy’s is advertising its burgers, but this time with a twist. The ad actually was intended to state where the fast food chain’s ground beef was actually from. (Well, sort of. It actually stated where its beef wasn’t from — Australia). Here’s the 30-second ad:


Why is Wendy’s spending millions to let the public know its ground beef doesn’t come from down under? It has largely to do with a food trend that is sweeping the entire industry from fast food outlets to five star restaurants: food is better when it is locally produced. People who believe this are called “locavores,” although I haven’t yet met anyone who would say that’s what they were. 

The basic philosophy of the local food movement is that the best food you could eat or feed to your kids (and pets, incidentally) was locally produced — safer, fresher, more “authentic.” Better for the environment, too, because transportation costs would be lower, and locavore food would just taste better. The vision was easy to see: supermarkets would become like farmer’s markets, only inside, and offering carrots just pulled from the earth or milk from cows pasturing just outside of town.

This is the idea Wendy’s wants to implant in your mind for the next time you head out for fast food. Since local is all the rage in the food industry — despite some despairing evidence that some local producers aren’t as up on safe food handling methods as they need to be — why not include fast food in the cause of freshness and quality? Local isn’t just a trendy coastal phenomenon, either. Here in America’s heartland, consumers can enjoy locally produced fruits and vegetables, dairy items, beer or wine and sausages in the meat case.

Wendy’s, which just happens to be have its headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, is about as all-American as a company can be (remember Dave Thomas?)The TV spot works on many levels, such as conveying that Wendy’s beef is produced in the U.S. (therefore safer and better), and that it is local (not Australia). What’s not to like?

Time will tell whether the ad boosts Wendy’s sales as it battles with McDonald’s for fast food burger dominance. Speaking of McDonald’s . . .


Share This