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 Advertising Mascots - People

Mr. Wendy at corporate headquartersMr. Wendy -The fictional "unofficial spokesman" for the Wendy's fast-food hamburger chain who first appeared in February, 2004. Of course, the "official" Mr. Wendy was Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy's Old-Fashioned Hamburgers who appeared as himself in a variety of TV spots to advertise the company's products for 13 years beginning in 1989. Thomas died in January 2002, and two years later the folks at Wendy's decided to hire actor Roger Eschbacher to play a character named Mr. Wendy, a man so uncontrollably enthusiastic about Wendy's products, that he appointed himself as the company's unofficial spokesman with a mission to proselytize Wendy's products nationwide.

Trying to create a new ad campaign with the likes of Mr. Wendy does have its challenges, however. Charles Frazer, a professor of advertising at the University of Oregon said "choosing a new pitchman for any company is 'always risky' but making Mr. Wendy something of an odd duck helps keep the character from being perceived by the public as a replacement for Thomas, who began Wendy's in 1969 in Columbus and named the chain after one of his daughters." (Knight-Ridder Tribune Business News 02/19/2004 p.1)

Don Calhoon, Wendy's executive vice president of marketing reassures consumers that "There will only be one Dave." and that Wendy's hopes consumers won't compare Mr. Wendy to Mr. [Dave Thomas] but rather accept the new guys loveable, quirky nature and love for the Wendy's product as an homage to the late founder's love of the product, as well.

In the first of several spots created by Interpublic Group's MvCann-Erickson Worldwide of New York ad agency, the Mr. Wendy character stood at the very doorsteps of the company's Dublin, Ohio corporate headquarters despite a cease-and-desist order mandating that he stop calling himself their unofficial spokesman. The ad ends with two executives chasing Mr. Wendy from the premises.


William Shatner & Mr. Wendy at a party
William Shatner & Mr Wendy

In another spot, while attending a party, Mr. Wendy (along with his wife who brings a cake) enters with samples of Wendy's spinach chicken salad for all the guests which included actor William Shatner. "These salads are fabulous," Shatner says, between bites. "Do you work for Wendy's?" to which Mr. Wendy replies, "Well, unofficially." A perplexed Shatner asks, "What does that mean?" "It's complicated," an embarrassed Mrs. Wendy responds.

Mr. Wendy's antics continued in another commercial as he used a bullhorn at a local mall food court to tout Wendy's freshly made salads. "Put the fork down and step away from the salad," he bellows. "Salad's not supposed to be brown. Go to Wendy's." His long-suffering wife snatches the bullhorn from her overzealous husband and promises onlookers that the incident will never happen again.

At times, Mr. Wendy was so passionate about his crusade to enlighten the public about Wendy's that he even woke his neighbor up late at night as he shouted his message from their front lawn - before being chanced away by a small but determined guard dog.

In each ad, Mr. Wendy questions why people should be subjected to "lousy" food when they have Wendy's nearby and open late at night, as well. Whenever anyone ask "You with Wendy's?" Mr. Wendy responds "Not officially." The tagline for the commercial were "It's better here."

"Hey wouldn't it be great to go for lunch with your parents after the game, spend some time together...Like at Wendy's?"

Not everybody liked the Mr. Wendy character. One "blog" on the internet reported "If Mr. Wendy is anything, he's creepy. That's right, I said it. Mr. Wendy freaks me out. If any other person in the world was masquerading as an umpire just to get closer to my kids, I'm sure I would probably beat the hell out of him and call the cops." And the lyrics of a parody by Phil Nelson sung to the classic rock song "Windy" by the Association reveals more negative sentiments for the "unofficial spokesman."

Mr. Wendy

I used to like the old Wendy's ads
Dave Thomas doing funny things
But when they had to find a new spokesman
They just found Mr. Wendy

Even the commercials without Dave were cool
I really liked the svimvear one
And the old "Where's the beef" ones were catchy
But I don't like Mr. Wendy

Mr. Wendy is annoying
But he's Wendy's new king
What was Wendy thinking
Those commercials stink
Those commercials stink

They're tripping if they think he is funny
Their new commercials are really cheesy
They were desperate on the spur of the moment
They should get rid of Mr. Wendy
They should get rid of Mr. Wendy

(Found at http://www.amiright.com)

TRIVIA NOTE: Actor/writer Roger Eschbacher hails from St. Louis. A native of Websters Grove, he attended DeSmet Jesuit High School (class of 1977), majored in Communications at the University of Missouri, Columbia and then moved to Hollywood to become an actor. He has appeared in such shows as ER, FRIENDS, SEINFELD, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION and WEST WING. He is the author of the children's book "Nonsense! He Yelled" (published by Penguin Putnam). See also - Dave Thomas


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