VICKSBURG FACTS: Vicksburg, where’s the beef?

Published 8:00 am Friday, April 7, 2023

Did you know that the creator of Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” ad campaign was born in Vicksburg?

Cliff Freeman was born in Vicksburg on Feb. 14, 1941. He was the son of James and Lillian (Pennebaker) Freeman. According to an article on Freeman in the New York Times, his parents owned a dairy business and motels. 

At the age of 6, Freeman and his family moved to Florida. In 1963, he graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in advertising. After graduation, Freeman joined an Atlanta-based advertising agency, Liller, Neal, Battle & Lindsey.

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After Atlanta, Freeman moved to New York and met his wife Susan. In 1968, he worked at McCann advertising agency, and in two years Freeman moved to Dancer Fitzgerald advertising agency and stayed there for 17 years. 

Freeman’s philosophy about advertising was that in order to connect, advertising must entertain. 

Soon Freeman became an award-winning copywriter and creative director for entertaining television commercials. His most notable commercial was Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” The commercial was about an old woman that looked at a tiny hamburger patty looking at a tiny hamburger patty in an oversized bun, asking, “Where’s the beef?”

He also was part of Philips Lighting’s “Time to change your light bulb” campaign and worked on an commercial where fake gerbils were fired from a cannon and aimed at the second “O” in an Outpost sign to help the company to raise its profile. 

Freeman started his own advertising agency, Cliff Freeman and Partner, and one of his biggest clients was Little Caesar’s Pizza. He created and voiced the small Roman and his famous slogan  “Pizza! Pizza!” and “Cheeser! Cheeser!” 

Little Caesar’s stayed with Freeman’s advertising agency for 11 years. Their next ad with Freeman’s agency was to emphasize the stretchiness of the cheese on the pizza to a slapstick. The commercial was a baby riding in her high chair throughout the house while still holding onto a slice of pizza. Another Little Caesar commercial that Freeman created was a worker from an unnamed rival chain trying to impress a customer by making a pizza box into an origami-style pterodactyl. During this commercial, Little Caesar had two pizzas for one low-price deal.

According to the New York Times, Freeman’s agency won many Clio Awards. Freeman also made many ads for Fox Sports’ National Hockey League and won awards for his hockey ad series. 

However, Cliff Freeman and Partners only lasted 11 years and closed in 2009. On Sept. 5, 2021, Freeman died at the age of 80.