Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Where's the Beef?: What was Wendy's trying to do with their commercial?

One of the most famous commercials from the 1980s was a Wendy's commercial, where three old women are staring puzzled at a hamburger questioning the lack of meat. In class, we discussed how meat is often advertised to men because of the masculine history the food has, but in this commercial, the focus isn't on big strong men, but instead three frail and elderly women. Why? How is gendering present in this commercial?

First, recognize that the three elderly women are not with the product that needs advertising, instead it is the opposition's burger. By placing the elderly women with it, they make the lack of meat seem feminine and weak, even less than that since the old women are asking where is the meat. These elderly women have more of a sense of masculinity than that hamburger. Meanwhile, Wendy's hamburger has a male narrator talking over it, explaining why it is superior. The burger is given masculinity by this narrator and it's quantity of meat, two things that the other burger lacks. Instead of using masculinity as the selling point like so many other commercials surrounding meat, it instead uses frail femininity as the enemy. Another way commercials use gendering, if in a slightly more subtle way.

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