When John Galardi founded Wienerschnitzel in 1961, it’s unlikely he could have known that his humble hot dog hut would grow to become the world’s largest hot dog chain. Home to chili dogs made with a secret recipe, this Southern California eatery also has bragging rights to the “world’s most wanted wiener.”
The Delicious One, Wienerschnitzel’s brand mascot, is a chili dog beloved by hot dog enthusiasts. TDO is in a league of his own in the world of fast food icons. He loves people, but he’s forever on the lam from his fan base. This is because they will do anything they can to “ketchup” to him, with commercial spots featuring humans of all ages chasing The Delicious One (sometimes with utensils in their hands) so they can feast on him. It’s all in the name — TDO has a reputation for that yummy chili topping, after all.
In celebration of Wienerschnitzel’s 50th anniversary in 2011, ad agency Amusement Park was tasked with bringing TDO back into the spotlight. But how do you create a comeback for a (somewhat) dormant brand mascot? We reached out to Amusement Park’s creative team for the answers. For Courtney Betley, Creative Director, and Julia Cadar, Senior Art Director, revamping The Delicious One meant embracing Wienerschnitzel’s SoCal roots all over again. It was time for TDO to get totally retro for some “Der Fun Since ’61” in the sun.
What’s the backstory on The Delicious One’s character?
CB: Originating in 1997, we set out to create the World’s Most Wanted Wiener and in came TDO. He began his journey as a Claymation character, developed by Loose Moose in London, who was just starting to do work in the United States. This TDO misread every situation! A little naïve, TDO thought everyone always wanted him around because of his delightful personality and charm, and quickly found out in almost every situation that everyone wanted to him for more nefarious reasons (they wanted to eat him). He was always on the run, trying to escape the clutches of hungry people.
TDO then went to animation with the same on-the-run mentality, though his time in animation was a lot friendlier and very much in the vein of the beloved jingles of the 1960s complete with 2-D animation.
Today he’s a live-action character in costume, has stopped running, and now the ultimate good time having dog. He’s part of the crew, and brings deliciousness and a celebratory spirit everywhere he goes.
I love the retro influence — surf’s up, tiki huts, and drive-thrus — that is so present throughout The Delicious One’s commercial spots.
CB: We originally had spots that featured beloved founder John Galardi and because people were connecting with the nostalgia it inspired, we continued to tap into that 1961 spirit for the following campaigns. We brought back The Delicious One in a 2-D animated iteration for the first time ever, complete with custom jingles.
Tell us more about those custom jingles and the overall animation for this campaign.
JC: We worked with a wonderful animation studio, Renegade, and it was a very collaborative environment. The jingles were written at the agency and we would then engage our marvelous music house and conceive the jingle, which was often inspired by a 1960s genre. We provided the track and what we’re imagining as a narrative, and Renegade would put together initial art, color examples, styles, etc. and then animate to the song. We would have constant, creative collaboration. It was very exciting to make mini :60 animated spots from scratch throughout the campaign. Once we finished one, we couldn’t wait to start the next immediately. It was creatively satisfying because we all had such passion for the time period from the animation to the jingles, it truly was a group effort, like most great creative is!
CB: I’m just a sucker for jingles and getting to tap into that love and write original jingles with an unbelievable team of animators was a dream.
JC: The animated spots were especially gratifying. It’s like your children, all those spots have such a soft spot in our hearts, due to its uniqueness in the space, its overflowing joy, and getting to create from scratch both song and animation.
Who voiced The Delicious One during your campaign?
CB: We used various voiceover talent throughout the years. Our very own executive creative directors and creative directors have yelped the part, specializing is terror and screams with many Amusement Park staffers tapping into the spirit of The Delicious One.
What does the future hold for The Delicious One and Wienerschnitzel? Think Der Wienerdog will ever make a comeback of his own?
CB: TDO is the living embodiment of the brand and here to stay. The Delicious One is so fun — I mean, it’s a giant six-foot hot dog! We’ve strapped him to a boat, with the coast guard trailing behind and we’ve worked with the tiniest puppies in the biz as the they crawled all over our character for the ultimate dog party.
Who knows what his next iteration will be? We may see him in virtual reality or as a Hologram. Only time will tell. One thing is for sure though — for as long as there’s a Wienerschnitzel there will be The Delicious One! The World’s Most Wanted Wiener. #wienerfam
Regarding the Der Wienerdog, never say never, but I think the only dogs you’ll be enjoying are the ones we’re serving…and of course at our world-famous wiener dog races, The Wiener Nationals.