Herb the Nerd - In 1985, the
Burger King Corporation launched a 40 million dollar campaign featuring "Herb"
the only man in America who hadn't tasted the goodness of their hamburger
products. Herb was never seen in the early commercials but the awe and
astonishment over the fact that Herb hadn't tasted a Burger King burger was the
focus of the campaign.
Mock testimonials from family members and friends were edited into the
commercial telling how different Herb was from other people and imploring him to
eat at Burger King.
Finally, Herb was revealed to the public. He was played by John Menick, a
classically trained 35-year-old actor who donned glasses, white socks, and pants
that didn't quite reach his ankles.
Herb's nerdish persona was hawked in all sorts of advertising gimmickry
including tee-shirts which read "I dated Herb." NBC's SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
lampooned the campaign by holding a mock press conference with Herb and his
lawyer pleading with the American public to let the man be and give him back his
John Menick made personal appearances at Burger King restaurants nationwide,
giving prizes to anyone who first recognized him when he entered the burger
One year later, Herb and his popularity fizzled (or as one reporter put it
"the Herb campaign wilted like week-old lettuce." Before totally fading from
public view, Herb made an appearance in a 1986 "Wrestlmania 2" video.
The Herb the Nerd ad campaign was created by the J. Walter Thompson Co. ad
agency and became one of the decade's biggest failures.
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