The Big Game Hall of Fame: Week 3

Wendy’s Starts a Beef

On February 4, 2018, two NFL teams will come together on the biggest stage in sports to vie for football supremacy. The day after, the cream of advertising’s creative crop will convene in New York to declare one Super Bowl ad the best of the year and will proudly honor it with the 4th annual Super Clio.

To help set the stage, we are going to spend the next few weeks leading up to the big game highlighting the greatest Super Bowl ads of all time. Those pop culture touchstones that are still referenced today, and which helped cement football’s championship showcase as the most important date on the calendar for agencies and brands.

WEEK THREE: Wendy’s “Where’s The Beef?”

Air Date: January 22, 1984

Super Bowl XVIII (Los Angeles Raiders 38/Washington Redskins 9)

Original "Where's The Beef!?" Wendy's Commercial, January 10, 1984

It’s safe to say that when your ad’s punchline is emblazoned on T-shirts and becomes a decade-defining touchstone next to the Rubik’s Cube and Transformers, you’ve made something extraordinary. Such was the case with Wendy’s legendary “Where’s the Beef?” The premise was simple: Three elderly women examine a “competitor’s” burger only to find it consisting of an enormous bun and precious little actual burger. Actress Clara Peller then delivered the signature line (fun fact: It was supposed to be “Where is all the beef?” but Peller suffered from emphysema and found the longer line more difficult – another happy accident that made history).

Keith Cartwright, executive creative director at 72 and Sunny LA and a member of the 2018 Super Clio jury, calls “Beef” his all-time favorite Super Bowl spot. “It was nothing more than a stripped down set, a small cast, a giant bun with a small patty, and a line that Clara Peller made famous: ‘where’s the beef?’,” says Cartwright.  “I was 10 years old watching the game with my brother and dad, and I distinctly remember all of us laughing out loud. I laughed at the time because it was funny, now realizing that I was probably laughing at an insight that came from a focus group. Ironically this commercial came out in 1984 and was arguably overshadowed by another commercial for a small computer company. That said, they both changed the way we look at advertising. Where 1984 defined the epic Super Bowl mantra, ‘where’s the beef?’ redefined humor for the industry.”


Meet the rest of the 2018 Super Clio Jury, right here.