Monday, September 03, 2007

Dave Disciples Flip Wigs Over Trendy Wendy

Despite Seeming Success of Saatchi Campaign, the Family Thomas Fumes

Another CMO shoots from the hip. For Wendy's CMO Ian Rowden it must have taken a lot of brain cells to come up with a Ronald McDonald spokecharacter with a five o'clock shadow. Visual shock jock or creepy molester. If I saw this man in the parking lot, would you want your child to run up an give him a hug?

Who needs differentiation with dignity? According to CMO Rowden embarrassment sells. Everyone likes to stop and stare at an accident. But at what cost? A little intent to purchase bump? Big deal. Ian, ya took the low road even though the ads are pretty funny. You'd do a lot better telling us why we should choose Wendy's over the millions of independent hamburger outlets across the land like Tommy's or Omega Burger.

The daughter of the chain's late founder Dave Thomas publicly slammed the ads in The Wall Street Journal as a personal affront (Melinda Lou Thomas -- better known as Wendy -- auditioned to appear in the new campaign, but Wendy's spokesperson Bob Bertini said consumer response to Ms. Thomas' screen test "was not positive.") Her sister, Pam Farber, also denounced the direction, and according to the Journal, Mr. Thomas' widow, Lorraine, has called for Chief Marketing Officer Ian Rowden's ouster. (Despite numerous attempts, the family couldn't be reached for comment.)

Darren Tristano, exec VP of Technomic, tooting his own horn said his food-industry research group used the Wendy's commercial as an example of the right way to target Generation Y at a recent conference, BUT, we're not certain who appointed them the judge.

By some accounts, Mr. Rowden's job is also in jeopardy. "When you talk to Ian, he says he's a change agent and all change agents eventually need to move on or die on the cross that they are dragging," said one person close to the account. "He talks like a guy soon to be moving on." Mr. Rowden denied he has any plan to leave Wendy's.

I bet Ian ends up writing one of those "How to brand it" books and ends up a consultant. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Not so sure on the book, appears Rowden is now returning to Australia to run Saatchi & Saatchi. What do you think?

H. Martin Calle said...

What do I think? I think that in spite of everyone's best efforts not one fast food hamburger chain has gotten a leg up on another. They do the same things today that they did yesterday and that they'll do tomorrow. They are trapped in an endless product/promotion marketing strategy. Not a single marketer sitting at any desk from McDonald's to Del Taco has done a single thing to substantively shake up the standings or move up a notch in position. They keep trying to do with brawn...chasing the next trendy set of consumer ears and eyeballs, what marketers like me used to do with brain. Avis may have tried harder, but they remained number two. What's Wendy's rank and why are they not the number one chain?. That's what I think - because I can make them number one and pass McDonalds.