AOL to Serve Major Role in New Wendy’s Push

Fast food giant Wendy’s International becomes the latest major marketer to sign a multi-year, cross-platform deal with media conglomerate AOL Time Warner.

The deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed, will feature Wendy’s on AOL-owned interactive properties, including its America Online service, AOL Moviefone and AOL Instant Messenger. Sites associated with AOL’s Time Inc. magazine division, such as PEOPLE.com, also are included in the buy.

Additionally, Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy’s will be promoted in Time Inc. magazines, on ads and program placements on AOL’s Turner Broadcasting television networks, and on shows out of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution unit, such as “The Rosie O’Donnell Show.”

Few specifics were disclosed of new campaigns that will run on AOL’s properties as a part of the agreement. One effort in coming months will involve an online and offline sweepstakes, which will run in conjunction with a new product launch.

Cordiant’s Bates Worldwide, Wendy’s agency of record, designed the media buy and oversees creative duties for the brand’s upcoming campaigns.

The treatment of those campaigns and its newly-inked media partnership will prove critical for the third-largest fast food chain, whose iconic founder-pitchman, Dave Thomas, died earlier this year. Thomas had served as spokesman since the late 80’s, when the chain brought in Bates (then Backer Spielvogel Bates) to jump-start sales after unsuccessful follow-up efforts to its 1984 “Where’s The Beef?” campaign.

Company executives nevertheless were upbeat about the chain’s upcoming efforts.

“Consumers will see the Wendy’s brand in places and ways they’ve never seen us before,” said Wendy’s chief marketing officer, Don Calhoon. “The package developed by Bates and AOL Time Warner allows us to seamlessly integrate a variety of elements that will allow us to be more efficient and effective with our programs.”

Meanwhile, AOL Time Warner chief operating officer Robert Pittman described the agreement with Wendy’s as another example of the media titan’s ability to craft customized, cross-marketing deals for big-budget advertisers.

“This program for Wendy’s goes above and beyond the concept of a standard media buy,” he said. “Close collaboration between the great team at Bates and our Global Marketing Solutions group enables us to deliver on the integration and total marketing solutions that take advantage of AOL Time Warner’s unparalleled brands and options.”

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