Wendy’s “Baconator” commercial

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I’m starting to think I should just start a weekly column entitled “SBG’s Commercial Corner,” because it seems I’m always talking about commercials. Or children’s programming. :)

The latest in my commercial finds comes from Wendy’s, whose current ad campaign causes me much consternation and nosebleeding. The one with the man and woman eating in a Wendy’s and she figures out he’s made a hologram of himself and is really at a sporting event is weak at best. The one where the kid goes to the restaurant freezer to find a bunch of people practicing Hamlet instead of hamburger patties and the kicking trees one are both just colossal WTFs to me. (You can watch all of the ads on the Wendy’s site.)

But the one that gets under my skin is the Baconator.

For those on dial-up, the commercial opens up with footage from what looks like Beatlemania from back in the sixties, only with old men’s heads pasted on women’s bodies (note: the screams are still very feminine). As if that’s not bothersome enough on it’s own, the voice over finally comes on, stating: “obsessing over a celebrity, that’s wrong…unless that celebrity is bacon!” 

There’s really no mistaking that the creators of this commercial are flat out saying a woman getting excited over her favorite celebrity is not acceptable behaviour, that it’s silly and frivolous and wrong…but a man slavering over bacon on his already-greasy burger should be encouraged and is totally okay. 

I get that they’re trying to hawk their product. That’s what commercials do. But did they have to do it by massively putting down and making fun of predominantly female fanaticism while building up male fanaticism? (Never mind that it’s actually far more reasonable to be a fan [even a screaming one] of a person or rock group than it is of fatty pork products…)

And don’t get me started on the dude in the Wendy’s wig. He’s almost as scary as the Burger King mascot, only slightly less so because he doesn’t have a giant plastic head.

Comments

  1. Nialla says

    The Wendy’s commercials are just getting bizarre, aren’t they?

    First off, why cast the young female symbol of the company as a man in a wig? Are they trying to cast off the idea of being a “girly” company by having a man instead? Sorry, but a guy in a bright red girl’s wig kind of defeats that purpose.

    And if you’re going to have hordes screaming for your bacon cheeseburger, why not have some women in there too? I know quite a few women who’d be just as ga-ga over the idea as the men shown in the ad. But only real men eat beef, don’t you know.

    Guess they’ve forgotten the little old lady in the ad from the 80s who asked “Where’s the beef?” that got them a lot of attention.

  2. sbg says

    I have to say the whole theme reminds me of that commercial for “Beggin’ Strips” – doggie treats that taste and look like bacon.

    And somehow I don’t think that’s the comparison they were going for, either. Men = dogs. ;)

  3. sbg says

    Nothing will ever top Quizno’s Sponge Monkeys as far as utter WTFness goes.

    Not that I’m on topic at ALL. ;)

    I think the Baconator bugs me so much because it hearkens back to “sci fi fans are weird for painting their faces and dressing funny but sports fans can do the very same thing without being mocked” bullshit, along with the gender issues.

  4. Jess says

    Generally, when I don’t understand these types commercials, I’m told that they’re for men 18-25. I just don’t think that a penis would allow me to make the connection between creepy technicolor wig and fatty slabs of beef. I thought maybe the kicking trees thing was anti-hippie and thus pro-beef, but the husband said I was overthinking it.

  5. says

    but, but, but….the sponge monkeys were funny!

    back to topic – I pretty much always tune out any commercial that uses screaming fangirls as a joke. Aside from being overused and usually insulting to fangirls, they are insulting to my intelligence because they always assume I’m too dumb to know that a) such hysteria ;) is often fed by pent of sexual desire that, when it comes to teen girls, doesn’t have an appropriate outlet and b) that making fun of girls with lots of energy is just another way to pretend like boys are always more active than girls.

    Although there is a special type of irony in a fast food commercial doing the latter.

    ps – omg that icon is too funny

  6. Jennifer Kesler says

    That screaming hysterical fandom thing… that’s something people hype themselves up to because it’s a release. They are not actually consumed by any uncontrollable feelings. Well, women aren’t anyway. Perhaps men going nuts over sports are truly momentarily insane. ;)

    Jess, I think you’re exactly right about the tree-kicking (versus tree-hugging) commercial.

    I came up with a theory about these commercials – and the Burger King ones that are also rather WTF and seem to belittle the very men they’re pursuing as customers. Could it be they’re thinking because their food is so unhealthy and people are worrying more about obesity, and generally speaking women are more health-conscious than men, that their only hope is to separate lard-craving guys from the “nagging bitches” in their lives? And so the commercials portray men stupidly consuming crap, and the othering remarks about (and portrayals of) women imply men are consuming crap in defiance of the feminine nurturing concern for health and well-being?

  7. sbg says

    back to topic – I pretty much always tune out any commercial that uses screaming fangirls as a joke. Aside from being overused and usually insulting to fangirls, they are insulting to my intelligence because they always assume I’m too dumb to know that a) such hysteria is often fed by pent of sexual desire that, when it comes to teen girls, doesn’t have an appropriate outlet and b) that making fun of girls with lots of energy is just another way to pretend like boys are always more active than girls.

    Word. The Baconator is so hard to tune out, though, as they really carry it to the extreme.

    ps – omg that icon is too funny

    Straight from the pages of the book… ;)

  8. sbg says

    I came up with a theory about these commercials – and the Burger King ones that are also rather WTF and seem to belittle the very men they’re pursuing as customers. Could it be they’re thinking because their food is so unhealthy and people are worrying more about obesity, and generally speaking women are more health-conscious than men, that their only hope is to separate lard-craving guys from the “nagging bitches” in their lives? And so the commercials portray men stupidly consuming crap, and the othering remarks about (and portrayals of) women imply men are consuming crap in defiance of the feminine nurturing concern for health and well-being?

    I think advertisers (and quite a few media execs) probably rely on the audience NOT thinking at all, going only on pure sensory motivation. All reaction and craving, no thought, please.

    Though I do not believe it’s a coincidence adverts for burger joints tend to be geared highly toward men (women are targeted for ice cream or salads offered, but never beef and bacon). Even pizza seems predominantly male. Contrast that with Subway commercials, which are usually pretty gender neutral and about the quality of the product.

  9. sbg says

    I think a weekly column would be great.

    Actually, I second that.
    Oh, look, the motion carried.
    Tag, SBG, you’re it.

    Well, there’s another fine mess I’ve gotten myself into. ;)

  10. Jennifer Kesler says

    Hehe. :D

    Though I do not believe it’s a coincidence adverts for burger joints tend to be geared highly toward men (women are targeted for ice cream or salads offered, but never beef and bacon). Even pizza seems predominantly male. Contrast that with Subway commercials, which are usually pretty gender neutral and about the quality of the product.

    I think advertisers do rely on people not thinking, but they are sometimes more subtle than folks give them credit for. I can’t help but also contrast this with the KFC commercials in which Mom is allowing the household to consume lard-encrusted chicken again because it’s now no-trans-fat. Dad jumps for joy, totally not getting Mom’s explanation – all he knows is the chicken is here, and he can commence stuffing his face.

    Like the other commercials, in the KFC one: the (white) man is too dumb to comprehend anything beyond “food taste good, me eat”. But KFC includes a woman who CAN be bothered to read up on fats and trans-fats, and it reassures her that while it’s still fried crap, it’s more healthy than it was. Instead of the Baconator approach (“When she does it, it’s wrong – when you do it, it’s really cool”), it brings the two sides together.

    I’m going to have to say that generally, from what I’ve observed among couples in my family and other families I know, men DO behave like children* (“I don’t know what trans-fat is, just give me my damn chicken”) even, in extreme cases, after already having had a heart attack. And women are generally much better at disciplining their eating habits and, by extension, their family’s. And I think the fast-food industry thinks it has to drive a wedge between the women who watch food quality and the men who will eat anything tasty/convenient.

    Unless, like KFC, they’re actually doing something to make their product a bit less atrocious… in which case they can pitch both to concerned people and oblivious people.

    *Sorry, guys – I’m not saying men are by nature immature, but I do think our entertainment culture encourages men to behave – and spend money – like 2 year olds, and since about 90% of humanity is happy to conform to whatever its overlords want, a lot of men do just that.

  11. MaggieCat says

    I’m going to have to say that generally, from what I’ve observed among couples in my family and other families I know, men DO behave like children* (“I don’t know what trans-fat is, just give me my damn chicken”) even, in extreme cases, after already having had a heart attack. And women are generally much better at disciplining their eating habits and, by extension, their family’s.

    I can’t say I’ve seen the same, which is why these commercials make so little sense to me. In my experience women are just as likely to eat total crap as men are. They may be less likely to admit to it, and don’t wear it as a badge of honor like some men do, but they’re still eating the same unhealthy food. (And I’ll have to include myself in that as well, for reasons that aren’t relevant here.) Women do seem much more likely to be slightly embarrassed by whatever crap they’ve consumed lately, but that’s because there is definitely a stigma attached to women who don’t spend time counting every calorie, or even have the gall to eat however much they want of something healthy. It’s not feminine to do anything more than delicately pick at a salad according to some people.

    Since advertising is supposed to work on a slightly more subtle level than that- it’s supposed to catch your attention, it’s not like they’re taking a census of how many french fries you’ve eaten this week- I just don’t get why they’re ignoring half the population. And that’s completely disregarding the offensiveness of how they ignore that half.

  12. Jennifer Kesler says

    I can’t say I’ve seen the same, which is why these commercials make so little sense to me. In my experience women are just as likely to eat total crap as men are.

    Huh. Well, I’ve spent most of my life in two areas: a red state where nothing was expected nor desired from a woman except beauty and doing chores, and L.A. which is the poster town for “you can never be too rich or too thin”, a maxim which of course only applies in its entirety to women.

    I did live briefly in a town where pretty much everyone was chunky and everyone seemed to eat junk food without shame.

    So it may be regional. But I’m betting my observed “norm” is the one the commercial makers are operating off of. I’m also betting it’s dominant in red states, which is a big audience with a disproportionately high percentage of Neilsen boxes.

  13. says

    I really don’t have anything intellectual to contribute to this thread, except that I FORGOT ABOUT THE QUIZNOS RATS! And this thread reminded me, and I just laughed and laughed watching that ad. When I first saw those ads, I had never heard of Quizno’s, because we didn’t even have one in my town, and I thought the ads were some sort of weird joke.

    I tend to tune out the guy with the weird Wendy’s hair. I think they were trying to copy the randomness of the creepy Burger King guy with the plastic head, and I am not sure that was a great idea on their part… because I’m not sure the King is anyone’s idea of a great idea.

  14. Ed West says

    Stupid is in. Weird stupid even more so. The “guy” with the wig is supposed to be Wendy in drag (took a buddy of mine to figure that out for me). The group of paste on man faces is for the transexual demographic and “art” as in I don’t care if you don’t understand it it’s art cause I say so plus we convinced the new owners of Wendy’s to pay us money for it so it is too art. And probably some kind of psycho-nonsense “they’ve never seen this before so they’ll remember it.” Duh Nooo. It makes me irritated. It makes me want to never think about Wendy’s or eat there again and what is the new management even thinking? Spending money on psycho-crap TV ads.

  15. Jennifer Kesler says

    It makes me want to never think about Wendy’s or eat there again and what is the new management even thinking?

    I have no idea. I can’t imagine these ads making anyone want to eat there. I can’t even imagine the company thinking these ads would make anyone want to eat there.

  16. Mandi says

    Ok, has anyone seen the Wendy’s commercial where there’s a guy (in that weird red wig) talking to a bunch of different guys dressed up as Lincoln, telling them that pennies aren’t worthless, and that for 99 cents, one can get a “big, juicy burger”? Does anyone know who that guy is? I’ve seen him somewhere before, but I can’t figure out where, and every time I see that commercial, it bugs me.

    Thanks!

  17. Mecha says

    I don’t see the whole ad campaign (the 4 current ads are up at Wendy’s) as dissuading people from eating at Wendy’s. It’s easy to find multiple people who enjoy various ones of the ads. Of course, for this ad, people might be enjoying it for the wrong reason.

    I recently saw a Wendy’s commercial building off the ‘Made to Order’ premise, with a burger in a wind tunnel, where a guy was saying it was ‘fast’, a woman asked ‘But how does it taste?’ and him responding with something to the effect of, ‘Dunno, but it’s fast.’ And then she had the weird red braids haircut on.

    Now this is made more interesting because I remember (and found on Youtube and Wendy’s site) the same commercial, more or less, but _without_ the braids (from a couple months back.) And I can’t find the other one. Either my eyesight’s tricking me (completely possible), or I’m left wondering if the red braids are becoming a half-hearted attempt, like the ‘Arby’s Hat’ to become an indication of sorts of people with the Wendy’s mindset (Good, not fast.)

    I think it’s also worth pointing out, along those lines of comparison, that pigtails are gendered female, while a cowboy hat is gendered male. The ad is more likely to seem off to ‘normal everyday Americans’ on that reason alone.

    Edit: Found http://nrnadwatcher.blogspot.com/2007/05/why-does-that-man-have-pigtails-i-dont.html
    on an ad agency discussion. Seems like a plausible explanation (trying to compete with the trendy-but-weird Burger King ads, although we’ve had a bit of _that_ discussion before here.)

    -Mecha

  18. sbg says

    I guess I’m so far off from their target market that I just can’t grasp the concept. When I think “food” and “weird” anywhere close to each other, it makes me NOT want to eat somewhere. I’m not terribly adventurous when it comes to food choices, I’ll admit, but I’m more apt to try something “interesting” than I am “weird.”

    The BK King mascot still freaks the crap out of me, but then so does the voiceover and CGI carpet man on the Empire Carpets ads.

  19. MacKenzie says

    The Guy in the 99 lincolns commercial is Eric Jungmann, the thing I recognized him from was Even stevens, but he was in other things like an episode of Veronica Mars, and CSI, and Not Another Teen Movie, you can look him up on IMDB for all of the other things that he was in.

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