I Just Ate So Much Bacon

First off, sorry for the blogging lapse. We have the Best Global Brands package coming up, and I’ve been swamped. I hope you all enjoy it when it comes out at the end of this month. Anyway, I’m back, and there’s something I have to tell you about.

There’s a Wendy’s “Baconator” sandwich sitting on my desk right now. That’s two beef patties, six pieces bacon, and a load of ketchup, mayonnaise, and cheese. How did it get here? I’m normally more of a wrap guy, and I try to eat healthy! And I hadn’t been to Wendy’s since I was a kid. The answer behind my buying decision is a good example of just how fragmented marketing has become, and why marketers have their work cut out for them when it comes to measurement.

Here’s the chain of events that led to this moment. I actually think it all started with this:

I saw this 60-second spot one Saturday a few weeks ago while I was vegging on the couch. I remember it, because the weird tree-kicking kept me from tivo’ing past it. My takeaway then: “Huh, I didn’t realize there was a difference in the beef.” That sentiment was followed quickly by this thought: “Whatever, that was weird.”

The saga continues after the jump.

2nd contact: Earlier this week I was visiting Mary Baglivo and Tony Granger, the CEO and Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi. Saatchi's is the agency that designed that spot. Our interview was about other stuff, but at the end of the meeting Tony showed me a new spot his group had worked up for Wendy’s about “The Baconator.” I can’t completely remember what happened in it (sorry, Tony), something with “Baaaacon” yelled loudly. I smiled politely. My personal takeaway: “That is an obscene amount of bacon on a cheeseburger.” I guess you could count this either as another TV spot or word of mouth, though obviously you usually don’t meet with the creative director behind the ad.

Digging around on YouTube, I found the spot he showed me. Here it is:

3rd contact: I walk by a Wendy’s on my way to work from the subway in the morning. Outside is a stand-up sign with a big picture of the Baconator. I find the huge stack of beef and bacon arresting, and pretty gross. I notice it a couple more times during my commutes.

4th contact: This morning I decided to handle some tedious clerical stuff that I’ve been putting off all week. I put in my headphones and go to Pandora.com. it’s a great site that spins out a customized internet radio station based on any song or group you like. I go there pretty often. It’s around 11 am, and what pops up this time? A banner ad for the Baconator.

4th contact, part 2: After working for awhile, I go back to the Pandora.com page to fiddle with the songs. The Baconator sits there, looking back at me. I’m getting hungrier, and it’s almost noon. I look at the copy in the ad. It’s been specifically created for the Pandora site:

“Click to add Baconator Radio?” What does that even mean? What music could these ad guys possibly think is the right fit for a greasy pile of beef and bacon? The curiosity kills me. I click.

4th contact, part 3: I arrive at a Baconator mini-site – www.thisismyburger.com. “Baconator Radio” turns out to be three songs that cycle. But the songs are pretty good, and I’ve never heard them before. Also two of them are about the devil, weirdly. I silence my own Pandora playlist and listen for awhile. Back to work.

Then, I come back. Anything else on this site? It says you can make your own burger. I’m interested in these kind of mini-sites anyway, and I feel like procrastinating. I click.

There are tons of ingredients you can add. I decide to make mine disgusting. It has one beef patty, pulled pork, chili, sliced tomato, fresh onion rings, cole slaw, fajita seasoned peppers, pineapple, spicy brown mustard, wasabi mayonnaise, smoked mozzarella, and blue cheese sauce. Oh, and I make sure it’s on “Artisan” bread, because this thing is going to be classy.

I click “submit.” It asks for a load of personal information. Not so fast, Wendy’s! I click off the site. By this time I’m absolutely starving, and I’ve been looking at the Baconator for a while now. After making my own nasty sandwich, a burger with six pieces of bacon seems pretty conservative. Plus I’m STARVING.

And here we are. How was it? Tasty in that fast-food, now-I-feel-sick-to-my-stomach way. Ugh. But who or what gets credit for that final sale? Where should the CMO increase or decrease spending? That's a whole new pain.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.