updated 5/19/2005 1:17:41 PM ET 2005-05-19T17:17:41

Still searching for an effective advertising message since the death of founder and pitchman Dave Thomas, Wendy's International Inc. on Thursday served up a new series of ads heavily seasoned with irreverence.

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The television, print and Internet campaign, built on the slogan "Do what tastes right," will highlight the quality of Wendy's food while giving the nation's third-largest burger chain's image a contemporary update, said Ian Rowden, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of the Wendy's, based in suburban Dublin.

In one television ads, which begins airing Wednesday, a woman dunks her head in a fish tank and a man drinks from a sprinkler, both apparently searching for relief from the restaurant's spicy chicken sandwich. A voiceover says, "If you can't stand the heat stay out of the chicken."

Another ad spoofs reality television with a formally dressed bachelorette choosing between Wendy's side dishes instead of suitors. Both end with the "Do what tastes right" tagline.

"We've not been as contemporary, and we've not been in that dialogue," Rowden said. A key goal is to appeal to customers ages 18-35.

The announcement of the ads comes as a woman in California is accused of planting a fingertip in a bowl of Wendy's chili . The woman has been accused of fraud, among other charges, but her initial allegations cost the chain millions of dollars in sales and forced it lay off workers.

Rowden said the timing of the campaign, which has been in development since January, had nothing to do with the hoax.

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