The Late Dave Thomas Returns to Wendy’s Ads

May 20, 2002

Wendy’s International plans to resurrect its late founder, Dave Thomas, in its advertising and marketing efforts beginning next month, after removing him from its campaigns out of respect after his death in January, reports The New York Times.

“We had stated we had no intention of continuing to use Dave in our advertising,” says Don Calhoon, executive vice president for marketing at Wendy’s International in Dublin, Ohio. “I’ve got to tell you, after we saw the response to his passing, I changed my mind,” Mr. Calhoon says. Wendy’s reports that visits paying tribute to Dave may have contributed to a 10 percent increase in revenue in the first quarter and a 12 percent increase in net income. Same-store sales at company-owned stores open at least a year, rose 5.6 percent.

Wendy’s will introduce television commercials, from its longtime agency, Bates USA in New York, promoting its low-priced “Super Value Menu” in which an announcer will describe items like cheeseburgers and salads as being “prepared Dave’s way.” The 5,700 Wendy’s restaurants in the United States and Canada plan to hang posters in their dining rooms showing a smiling Mr. Thomas wielding a spatula. The caption will say “We’ll always do it Dave’s way,” and “Our name is Wendy’s, but we will always be Dave’s place.” Owners of the Wendy’s restaurants will also be sent decor kits that include vintage ads, photographs and posters devoted to Mr. Thomas’s career, the adoption charities he supported and the company’s history. Displaying the materials will be up to the individual franchisees.

Moderator Comment: Should Wendy’s include Dave Thomas
in its ads?

Seeing our first Wendy’s commercial after Dave Thomas
died, we were immediately conscious that the ever present pitchman for the chain
wasn’t in the spot. It seemed appropriate considering the circumstances. That
hasn’t changed. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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