Will a [pound]3m redesign of Wimpy oultets help the chain compete with McDonald's and Burger King? Or is its kitsch appeal the key to the brand's longevity in the UK?
Wimpy is a brand that seems to have been around forever, but you don't know anyone who still goes there.
Moreover, when you consider everything that Wimpy has endured since it first burst onto the scene in 1954,it really is remarkable the brand is still around at all.
Wimpy has survived three ownership changes in the past ten years, seen the arrival and subsequent domination of Burger King and McDonald's, and withstood the BSE scare, which saw sales of its beef lines plummet by 20%. Yet it still boasts almost 300 outlets and recently launched a takeaway chicken offshoot, Dr Beaks.
Although Wimpy was the first burger restaurant to offer counter-service, bean burgers and brown buns, it has never gone out of its way to tell the public about its trailblazing.
It has not advertised on TV since the late 80s, and its marketing since then has been limited to instant-win campaigns and radio ads. It owns only eight of its outlets -- the rest are franchises -- so the central marketing spend is hardly huge.
But in 1996 Wimpy drafted Ignition Marketing to help it ditch its outmoded image and raise its public profile. The latest part of Ignition's solution was announced last week: a [pound]3m overhaul involving a new logo, redesigned restaurants, the introduction of alcohol, luxury coffees at some sites and TV advertising.
The question is, can lager and lattes really compete with the massive marketing muscle of McDonald's and co? Marketing asked two authorities on fast-food for their views.
Tom Blackett is deputy group chairman of Interbrand Newell and Sorrell, the brand consultancy that oversaw the rebranding of Kentucky Fried Chicken as KFC. James Laird is a director at PR agency Nexus Choat, which has held the Burger King account for eight years.
A whole generation remembers fondly the arrival of Wimpy in the 50s. We were too young to go to pubs and too fastidious to visit unhip greasy spoons. Wimpy Bars were warm, hospitable places where, for sixpence, you could spend all evening lingering over a coffee -- you might even chat up a girl. And they served Wimpy's, hamburgers with mandatory onion, a revelation to the post-war generation.
Now the …