Slogan Week: Where’s the beef?
“Where’s the beef?” first appeared in a Wendy’s commercial in 1984.
In the ad, titled “Fluffy Bun”, actress Clara Peller receives a burger with a massive bun from a fictional competitor which uses the slogan “Home of the Big Bun”. The small patty prompts Peller to angrily exclaim, “Where’s the beef?” The catch phrase was repeated in television shows, films, magazines, and other media outlets.
This slogan works because it had unintended consequences.
The phrase became associated with the 1984 U.S. presidential election. During primaries in the spring of 1984, when the commercial was at its height of popularity,Democratic candidate and former Vice President Walter Mondale ridiculed the candidacy of his rival, Senator Gary Hart, by using the phrase during a March 11, 1984 televised debate prior to the New York and Pennsylvania primaries.
Hart had moved his candidacy from dark horse to the lead over Mondale based on his repeated use of the phrase “new ideas”. When Hart once again used the slogan in the debate, Mondale leaned forward and said, “When I hear your new ideas, I’m reminded of that ad, ‘Where’s the beef?'”. Subsequently, the two campaigns continually clashed using the two dueling slogans.
Good luck getting your slogan used by presidential candidates during a debate.