For many years now, Wimpy has opted for brand oriented campaigns that are highly visual with a strong feel-good factor. In these campaigns the burger people aren’t selling the bun, the patty or the sizzle, they’re selling a brand positioning that’s all about fun.
Way back in 1981 Wimpy had an absurd alien in an equally absurd UFO, coming to Earth to get a burger, only to have his UFO towed for illegal parking. Then there was that ‘free mug’ promotion that had a mug collector showing off his collection, only to have the boom microphone get stuck in the overhead fan, wreaking absolute havoc and destroying the whole collection, candid camera style. And who can forget “I love it when you talk foreign” – the spot that promoted Wimpy’s barista-style coffees? That particular TV ad achieved a massive word-of-mouth factor – at the time everyone was ‘talking foreign’ and mouthing the words: ‘Cremachino, café mocha, and macchiato.
Wimpy has a long history in South Africa. The first store was opened in 1967 in Durban, and over the years it became SA’s de facto burger joint, and a part of our national fabric. In those early days one could buy a burger, chips and coke for a mere 60c. Bought from the American mother company in the late 70s by Bakers, it was later sold to Pleasure Foods, who in turn sold the chain to Famous Brands. In 2007 Famous Brands would go on to buy the struggling UK chain of Wimpy restaurants as well.
Since then, extensive rebranding has taken place to unify the SA and UK brands. The bold red-and-white logo is complemented in the UK by ‘Mr Wimpy’ – a big-headed character in what looks like a beefeater outfit, with a red skirt, floppy red hat and medals. Somehow I don’t think we’ll be seeing him here, but then again, I don’t think Wimpy needs a mascot because its local ads are such a hit.