Dave Thomas - The Guiding Compass of Wendy's*



Case Code : CLCB009
Publication date : 2005
Subject : Consumer Behavior
Industry : -
Length : 04 Pages
Price : Rs. 100

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Key words:

Wendy's International Inc., Dave Thomas, Burger King, McDonald's, Orville Redenbacher, Perdue Chicken, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Fallon Brand Consulting, Landor Associates and Brand Icon


* This caselet is intended for use only in class discussions.
** More comprehensive case studies are priced at Rs.200 to Rs.700 (US $5 to US $16) per copy.


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The caselet deals with the dilemma faced by Wendy's, an international fast-food chain, on continuing to project Dave Thomas, the founder of the chain, as its brand icon. After the demise of the founder, there were varied opinions expressed on the ways in which Wendy's could continue to associate with the personality attributes of Dave Thomas. The caselet also assesses how Dave Thomas has influenced the brand attributes of Wendy's.


» How consumers associate a brand with its founder
» The extent to which an organization can use the image of founder as a brand icon after the demise of the founder
» How the personality of an individual make its way to the brand personality of the organization that the individual founded


Wendy’s International, Inc., a restaurant operating and franchising company had $11.6 billion in sales and operated more than 9,700 restaurants in 2004.

The company's brands were Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers (Wendy’s), Tim Hortons, Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, Cafe Express and Pasta Pomodoro. Dave Thomas (Dave) opened the first Wendy’s in 1969 and was the visible face of the restaurant till 2002...

Questions for Discussion:

1. "Dave Thomas reflected an image that was genuine and folksy." Discuss the reasons behind the success of Dave as a brand icon of Wendy's.

2. Why do marketers make use of the personality of the founders to communicate with the customer?