Manley Creative Team

Marketing Lessons From the 80s: The Squawk Heard Round the World

June 28, 2016

Something totally awesome happened in 1984.

It blew me away and I immediately knew what I wanted to do with my life.

“Where’s the beef?” cawed Clara Peller. That was it. That did it.

First, I thought to myself, the person or people who came up with that commercial had to be mad creative geniuses.

Second, I pictured the scene in the corporate boardroom when “Where’s the Beef?” was pitched. I mean, can you imagine the look on the faces of the client when the creative madmen said, “Ok, here’s what we’re gonna do…since your target audience is 18-45 year olds, let’s get a 4 foot 11 inch, 81 year-old manicurist with no acting experience and a crow-like voice to be the spokesperson for your product in this new round of commercials. She’ll say 3 words and we believe those 3 words will take your product to the next level.”

After that, there had to be blank stares, hands on foreheads, and perhaps some curse words from the client. But, the madmen believed in their idea. They did their research, they accessed the competition, they dug deep into their years of experience, and they stood by their pitch, eventually gaining the buy-in from their valued client.

In two short years, Wendy’s sales jumped 31 percent worldwide.

Wendy’s SVP of Communications, Denny Lynch, stated at the time, “With Clara we accomplished as much in five weeks as we did in 14½ years.”

The offbeat campaign succeeded in part due to the simplicity of the idea. From Clara Peller’s squawk came one of the most recognizable slogans, still known today. Now, that’s endurance.

Thirty-two years later, here I am, in my twenty-third year of pitching ideas. The Manley Creative Team and I have seen those blank stares, hands on foreheads, and we’ve even been cursed at a few times. And you know what, that’s okay. No, it’s better than okay. It’s great.

Decisions driving revenue and decisions driving your company’s success should be scrutinized, explored and questioned. There is no room for ego. Yes, we may want to pitch a “where’s the beef” to you and we hope that you’ll consider it. But, when it comes down to it, we’re in a partnership with you. A giant sales jump sounds just as awesome to us as it sounds to you.

So, because of Clara, the mad creative geniuses, and Wendy’s corporate, I’m living a dream life. I get to partner with some of the finest companies in the world to help create memorable moments. And you know what? If you decide you’d like to sit in a conference room with me and my team, I would consider it an honor. But, please remember, if you feel like our ideas are too soft, you know what to say.

“Where’s the beef, Manley?”

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