COLUMBUS, Ohio – The original Mr. Wendy is back. Pictures of Wendy's founder Dave Thomas (search), who died of liver cancer in January 2002, will be featured in a new series of advertisements celebrating the fast-food chain's 35th anniversary, company officials said.
The first television and print ads will appear Friday and more TV spots will air for a month beginning Monday, said Bob Bertini, a spokesman for Wendy's International Inc.
The ads will reference Thomas' business philosophies such "Just be nice" and "Don't cut corners."
Thomas pitched Wendy's (WEN) hamburgers, fries and other fare in more than 800 television ads over 12 years, emphasizing the quality of the chain's offerings with a folksy, straightforward delivery.
After his death, the company switched to a campaign that focused on the quaint appeal of Thomas and Dublin, the upscale Columbus suburb where Wendy's is based.
More recently, the company's ads featured Mr. Wendy, an "unofficial" spokesman who often embarrassed his wife by promoting Wendy's menu everywhere he went.
The humor-based campaign, which the company will abandon, distracted from Wendy's emphasis on its food, said Rao Unnava, a marketing professor at Ohio State University (search).
"This is just something to link back with Mr. Thomas and from then on they will have a campaign focused on the quality of food," Unnava said of the new campaign.
In both September and October, Wendy's lowered its yearly profit outlook, settling on $2.19 to $2.25 per share. Company officials and experts have cited everything from increased competition to fallout from hurricanes.
Unnava and some analysts also blamed the Mr. Wendy campaign for some of the slumping profits. JP Morgan analyst John Ivankoe called the campaign "lousy" and said in an October report that it "misses the mark."