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Sure, the current dicey economic climate has reduced America to nation of terrified food hoarders. But more importantly, it has cost us some of our annoying and unnecessarily strange advertising icons: Applebee's Wanda Sykes-voiced talking apple, and a bunch of guys running around in bizarre red pigtail wigs on behalf of Wendy's. Take a moment to mourn them. "Both campaigns were meant to attract younger diners," the Times reports. But they failed, because kids aren't doing as many drugs these days, I guess. The companies' new advertising strategy? "Hey, look at our food."

Advertising and restaurant executives point to several reasons that neither campaign was a hit. The bizarre red wig commercials were too much of a departure from Wendy's folksy brand; the apple was not a strong enough image to represent Applebee's. It is unlikely, though, that either one would have been ended so quickly in better economic times.

Instead, both marketers have opted for a more recession-proof approach: glamour shots of food that are intended to make mouths water and prompt consumers to reach for their wallets.


[NYT; disclosure: I once worked with Doug Quenqua, author of this article.]