Uh-oh. You know me and television commercials. I hate most of 'em. But occasionally we'll find a gem. I've written about some of the good ones before. And I'm happy to report back when I discover another.
Remember the old commercial for the Wendy's hamburger chain in the 1980's? It starred three little old ladies who've just been served a (presumably) non-Wendy's hamburger with a big, fluffy bun. The shortest of the three women, the famously cantankerous Clara Peller examines the burger and begins yelling, "Where's the beef?!" It became a catch-phrase of course, because you know how we Americans love a good catch-phrase. Watch...
Okay, so the video quality is terrible. Digital recording equipment hadn't been introduced yet in 1984 when the commercial first aired.
Soooo... I happened to catch the newest Wendy's commercial. In it a young man (the guy who played Dylan on ABC's "Modern Family") rummages through a thrift store bin and selects a yellow t-shirt with the words, "Where's The Beef?" on the front. He puts the shirt on and then, evidently unaware of the significance of the expression, is surprised when everyone who sees him shouts out, "Where's the beef!" He finally arrives in front of a Wendy's where he makes the connection.
The payoff comes right at the end, naturally. The protagonist sits outside on a bench, eating his burger. A pretty girl sitting next to him says, "Nice shirt!" instead of what he (and we) probably expects. Cute.
I love this commercial because of its callback to the original. I like tradition (it's why I ride a Harley, after all). And even if the phrase has lost its literal meaning, as one snippy, humorless media blogger/reviewer opined, the phrase is so linked to Wendy's that it doesn't matter what those three words actually are. The spot just sparkles with brightness and color, the people in it are impossibly good-looking and dammit, it makes me want to run out and buy a Wendy's hamburger.
If that isn't good advertising, I don't know what is.