One of the most quotable advertising campaigns of the 1980s, "Where's the Beef?" was a Wendy's ad that starred octogenarian Clara Peller and two other old ladies (Mildred Lane and Elizabeth Shaw). Initially impressed at the size of the competition's hamburger buns, Clara is dismayed to find the bun is huge compared to the amount of meat, saying "Where's the beef?" The shtick of the ads was that Wendy's had more than enough beef to fill the bun.
The ad quickly reached memetic status, and was referenced in the 1984 Democratic primaries by both sides. Several sequels were made as Clara's character raced around town to other restaurants demanding to know where her beef was. Aside from the ads themselves, plenty of merchandise was made, including stickers, mugs, coasters, a board game, and even a single, released on vinyl record.
These ads and related media contain examples of:
- Cool Old Lady: Part of the ad's appeal was Clara's bluntness and attitude being seen as cool and relatable to viewers.
- Drives Like Crazy: This ad has Clara driving like crazy and sending everyone in the car flying.
- Loud of War: In one ad "Where's the beef?" is shouted so loudly over the phone it knocks the owner of the Big Bun over.
- MacGuffin: Finding The Beef is the main object of the tie-in board game.
- Misleading Package Size: The first ad has the old ladies marvel at how big the "big, fluffy bun" is, and are dismayed to open it and find a burger patty no bigger than a silver dollar.
- Mundane Made Awesome: A little old lady yelling "Where's the beef!?" became a national phenomenon, and Wendy's sales increased 31% as a result of the campaign.
- Never Mess with Granny: Clara will stop at nothing to find where that darn beef is.
- Take That!: The ads and the record take shots at McDonalds and Burger King burgers.