Each of those campaigns by itself, given time to endure, might have produced results. But changing too often, even from good idea to good idea (not that each of those was), only tells your market you're not sure who or what you are.
Then Wendy's committed what is generally the Ultimate Advertising Act of Desperation: they put their CEO on the tube. Yet it worked for them. America fell in love with Dave Thomas.
The risk, of course, was that Dave might die. Which, you may have heard, he did.
After Dave's passing, Wendy's returned to its roots of uncertainty. The red wig came and went. They were open late. They weren't fast food. There have been other campaigns, but in the spirit of how forgettable they were, I have forgotten them.
This week Wendy's announced a return to the Dave Thomas strategy, they say, by talking about—brace yourself—freshness. Their new tagline: "You know when it's real."
Freshness? RIght. No fast food purveyor ever tried that one before.
It's enough to make an agency guy with smarts weep. Sure, Dave Thomas talked about freshness. He talked about other things, too. But what America fell in love with was Dave himself. Heck, we even called him by his first name.
If Wendy's thinks "you know when it's real" invokes the essence of Dave Thomas, then maybe a tagline like "we can win" will convince people that your company personifies none other than Winston Churchill.