I saw my sister Linda when I visited Minnesota over the holidays.

Linda is the one who came up with the title Freakonomics. She was complaining how unfair it is that everywhere she looks, she sees people ripping off her idea. I asked her what she was talking about, and she offered up lame examples like “Obamanomics.”

I reminded her that the term “Reaganomics” existed long before Freakonomics, and I chided her for being egotistical.

That was before I saw the new 3conomics campaign from Wendy’s.

bird's- eye-view

The real question is- the source of the idea- but then I guess you already know the answer to that question- so do i- and i have for a while. Got ya!


I'm very glad that you have posted something about this. I am often reading or doing something else with the TV on, and every single time that commercial comes on I look up thinking they are talking about Freakonomics. Stop it, Wendy's, stop it!


So glad this has been addressed...every time I see one of those commercials, I at first think they're saying "Freakonomics" and I do a double take. However, I don't actually think this is a case of Wendy's ripping off the name Freakonomics deliberately. It's too bold a move to have been on purpose (risking lawsuit for an ad campaign?). I think they are following the recent trend of naming things with the "-onomics" add-on (such as Obamanomics). But I do think that trend was started or at least largely influenced by Freakonomics.


or 'mazdanomics' for that matter...


Freakonomics has certainly started a trend. Here are a few obvious examples.






Both my son and I were a little surprised to see the Wendy's tagline 3conomics. We thought they were using Freakonomics at first, but we did eventually figure out the correct pronunciation. My next thought was whether they had contacted you for permission, or if they had taken liberties. In any event, thier use of the term is clearly a rip-off of your brand, and I for one think it should be an issue. Their strategy seems to make it confusing to separate the two entities. In my opinion, you need to protect your brand.


Maybe you can get free Frostys for life out of it, like Kramer. Just make sure you get good representation.

Jerry in Chicago

Totally, agree. As soon as I saw that ad for Wendy's I immediately thought, "what a rip off."

bird's- eye-view

Title is one thing- the idea behind it is another- Have known for a while- one more example of "crafty-man ship!" Thanks to Richard Sennet- for in-put and real resolve to keep it dignified. I like his' style-


Let's just hope they don't shorten the whole thing to CONomics.


I know the I did a double take the first time I heard that Wendy's commercial, "Did he just say FREAKonomics?"


Eeekonomics is the key nugget.

I always thought the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was a huge rip from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.


I would imagine the marketing guys came up with "3conomics" on paper before they said it out loud, where it is just "Economics" with the E turned backwards.

Maybe after they said it out loud they realized a similarity, but if they are the sort of people who say "ee-conomics" rather than "eh-conomics" it's still not similar enough to cause any hand wringin, imo.

Of course, I've never come up with a clever, natural sounding play on words that proved as popular as 'freakonomics' and maybe if I had that asset to protect I would be a bigger advocate for intellectual property rights.

Sara in DC

Try this one: geekonomics. That made me laugh!

bird's- eye-view



I wanted to comment on this last week, when I first noticed this campaign. My opinion: don't kid yourself, it's a blatant rip-off of Freakonomics.

The good thing is that it is complementary marketing, because it darn sure makes people think about Freakonomics.


For the authors I think this would be a fantastic way to get content for a research study. Get Wendy's to supply same store sales numbers for the stores as a whole, the products that fit under their advertising and the non advertised products. Then, run the numbers to see if dollars spent advertising using this campaign affect sales of the products more/less than previous campaigns.

Even better, do the above while comparing ongoing sales of Freakonomics merchandise & books (including library checkouts and searches if possible from some libraries). Track to see if increased advertising by Wendy's correlates to sales of Wendy's stores AND Freakonomics merchandise.

I bet the authors will find that people hearing the name on the radio and tv will increase word of mouth to friends and hence library, Amazon & Google searches and sales. Don't forget webpage hits & comments to this blog too.

If the authors' play it right and produce a very quick study with the assistance of the Wendy's company they may be able to write up a good article within a month or two and then get some large newspapers to publish articles discussing it from a business perspective. Increases awareness through free media blitzes of both the Wendy's brand AND the Freakonomics brand.



I don't think it was a rip off of Freak.

However, their 99cent Value Auction game is no fun. Way to hard to play auctions online with the risk of slow computers always losing to some dork with a super fast one. Should have learned a lesson from the Rockies online auction of world series tix. Come on Wendy's get with the times, it's 2009! Have a raffle linked to indvidual's bar codes or computer chips that are inplanted at birth.

And by the way thanks to Steven I think a few of us lost an hour of work since he posted that link, how does that fair on the economy already in a slump!


Fact: Wendy's has horrible food. FACT.

Walter G

Awesome commercials. I love the one when he says, "The fundamentals of the 3conomy are strong my friends." McCain's ignorance will live forever.