Where’s the beef? The real beef in the Wendy’s March Madness Commercial

Published: February 24, 2023

min read

Where’s the beef?

There’s the beef!

Square’s the beef!

Well, here’s the beef!

March Madness is around the corner and Wendy’s campaign for it is built around its old, iconic, highly-nostalgic line “where’s the beef?” with a twist – Square’s the beef!

Everyone remembers the old commercial from 1984, featuring an unknown (but now famous) actress Clara Peller and her friends who are served burgers with giant, fluffy buns and a tiny patty, causing her to ask angrily “where’s the beef?”

In the 80’s, this was the catch-phrase that ruled them all. So much so, that “where’s the beef?” has become a part of the language now - a phrase that questions the substance of an idea, event, or product. “Where’s the beef, huh?”

Imagine, it came from Wendy’s commercial!

Ad Age even named it one of the top ten ad slogans of the 20th century!

The new 2023 spot features longtime endorser and former NBA star Reggie Miller, who is shown to be cheering the gang from Wendy’s as they turn the spotlight on Wendy’s iconic square hamburgers, saying “there’s the beef!’ and finally, “square’s the beef!” The campaign comes from agencies VMLY&R, Spark Foundry, The Marketing Arm and Ketchum.

Time to revisit the power of the past with a fresh marketing take to connect with our customers and continue to celebrate our proven track record of delivering the freshest, hottest and juiciest hamburgers for our fans.

Carl Loredo,

Chief Marketing Officer


Wendy’s burgers have always had square beef patties, as opposed to all the other fast-food chains, which have round ones. The meat is fresh, not frozen, and the edges of the square patty hang over the buns, for the customers to see the quality of the meat for themselves.

Some beef for marketers –

Getting the right influencer for your brand does the trick – getting a celebrity to endorse your brand is a great idea, but not all celebrities “match” or “suit” all brands. The trick is to find the right influencer who will influence the right audiences for your brand.

One associates sports with fast food – burgers and hot dogs, pizzas and fried finger food, soda and beer. A sports star has a tremendous impact when he or she endorses any brand of fast food or drink. Having former NBA star Reggie Miller (who has been associated with Wendy’s for a while now) go “there’s the beef” will do the trick for any basketball fan!

Which brings us to the next big chunk of beef – brands need to shape the conversation while using an influencer to take it to greater heights … Miller’s “there’s the beef” is not merely a play on “where’s the beef” – the subtext here is powerful. It is no longer a question – a search for the beef. But the beef is right here! And square’s the beef! Wendy’s steering of the conversation, tapping into the connotations of “beef” being the ‘substance’ or the very ‘essence’ of the burger, is brilliant.

Nostalgia marketing is powerful – this is a powerful way of building a campaign by tapping into something that your customers are already familiar with and love. You give your audience something they can recall – something that takes them to a happier, simpler time – and you’ve got it made.

When brands tap into very positive and familiar concepts from yester-years to lay the foundation of trust, on which they build a new structure of ideas and concepts, it is a very powerful marketing strategy.

So when Wendy does a “Square’s the beef” taking audiences all the way back to the 80’s and “where’s the beef?” the excitement is almost palpable!

Shaping the campaign conversation, with the right influencer – now that’s where the beef is!


Bill Walker

Bill is a marketing strategist who believes in the power of storytelling. He's known for his creativity, wit, and ability to connect with audiences across all channels. When he's not crafting marketing campaigns, you can find him hiking in the mountains or reading a good book.


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