Today is an important part of history in the fast-food business. 30 years ago today, Wendy’s released the iconic Where’s The Beef commercial. The commercial stars Clara Peller as an old lady demanding more meat from her fast-food hamburger. Her along with two other women appeared at an off the wall fast-food joint that was home to the big bun. After Clara said “Where’s The Beef”, a classic 1980’s catchphrase was born!
The catchphrase turned Wendy’s into a household name! The ad claimed that Wendy’s had more beef than the Whopper and the Big Mac. And after the ad, revenue at Wendy’s was boosted by 31% percent! The ad was an instant sensation, spawning a series of Wendy’s sequels, along with “Where’s the beef?” merchandise, from T-shirts to bumper stickers and even a board game. Clara Peller became famous, and appeared on numerous talk shows and even on Saturday Night Live. Sadly, Clara Peller passed away in 1987 at age 87. And Wendy’s struggled with their ad’s until it stared a series of commercials with founder Dave Thomas, that also became famous!
In honor of the 30th anniversary of Where’s The Beef, I wanted to talk about the slow demise of many fast-food joints. As you know, Millennials, or people under 35, are choosing different places for eating out like Panera Bread, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Chipotle Mexican Grill. These places make many of their food and ingredients in-house and every customer can customize what they want while the worker makes their food in front of them. At places like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s; you might not be able to see the kitchen where they make the food. And the food is already prepared and was shipped in boxes to the restaurants. The only exception to this rule has to be Taco Bell, where they have conquered the Millennial market.
Not only Millennials are eating out less, they are more picky when they eat out. Many Millennials are passionate foodies, like me! And we like to try new foods and eat foods that are fresh, and are good for us! So, when the Millennial age group skips the traditional fast-food places in favor of fast-casual restaurants, it shows panic signs to the fast-food places. And sales at McDonald’s and other traditional fast-food places are struggling. Sure, places like McDonald’s have introduced things like cafe drinks, smoothies, and fresher menu choices. But I have a simple solution to the fast-food places. You need to start campaigns that allow the Millennial age group to see where the food comes from, and how it’s made as well. Plus, you need to show how the food is cooked at the restaurants and how it’s served. In simple terms, you need to quit hiding things! And you need to pay your workers a higher wage as well.
The only way the fast-food chains will see sales increase, is to make food fresh, make some food in-house instead of in a factory, and show the Millennials how the food is made and prepared. If the fast-food joints don’t do this, they will continue to lose sales while fast-casual places continue to expand. Soon, the fast-causal places can say “Where’s The Beef’, to the fast-food joints. That won’t be a good thing!