memories of the ’80s – Where’s the beef?

In the mid 1980s, a successful marketing campaign by fast food company Wendy’s had us all saying Where’s the beef? 

Launched in 1984, Wendy’s was trying to get some notice in the competitive fast food burger chain world by going up against McDonald’s and Burger King by focusing attention on their large beef patty.

In the first commercial, three senior citizen ladies examine their burgers, noticing an oversized bun and small burger patty, with one of the ladies exclaiming Where’s the beef?

This lady, actress Clara Peller’s delivery became a hit – and she went on to star in numerous tv commercials for Wendy’s as the campaign hit the right note with viewers.

Written by Cliff Freeman, the campaign was created by Wendy’s executive vice-president William Welter and advertising agency Dancer Fitzgerald Sample working with Burson-Marsteller.

The merchandise spin from Peller’s infamous line was spotted on bumper stickers, frisbees, t-shirts and all kinds of items. The campaign continued into 1985, until Peller did a commercial for Prego spaghetti sauce, proclaiming she had finally found the beef.

But the most popular note of this campaign was when during the 1984 presidential campaign, a debate between primary candidates Walter Mondale and Gary Hart became memorable when Mondale accused Hart of a weak platform and said that Hart’s campaign reminded him of the phrase “Where’s the beef?”.

For those who remember the mid 1980s, this phrase is one that became part of pop culture’s lore.



About Waheeda Harris

A pop culture junkie with a penchant for exploring our planet.
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