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What Wendy's is Doing Right

A fast food chain turned marketing genius

Wendy’s: The pinnacle of fresh never frozen burgers.

But, also, one of the best marketing masters of our time. Unless you’ve been living in a cave and are being raised by wolves, odds are you’ve heard the buzz about Wendy’s Twitter account. They’ve raised eyebrows and opened mouths in laughter with their tweets. They respond to customers and they have FUN with it. How are they being professional and fun? Let me explain.

In 2017, a fan of Wendy’s tweeted one simple line: “Yo @Wendys how many retweets for a year of free chicken nuggets?” Within minutes, Wendy’s replied, “18 million”.

That small exchange, that little bit of playful fun, not only scored the most retweets in the history of Twitter and won the fan the nuggets, but Wendy’s also gained more than 970,000 new Twitter followers.

In March of 2018, Wendy’s entered into a rap battle with Wingstop, putting out their album “What’s Beefin?” on Spotify. Within hours, they reached number one with their song “Rest In Grease” on Spotify’s Global Viral 50 and just like that millions of people listened to a song about burgers on repeat. With that song stuck in their customers’ heads, Wendy’s social media gained views, they were talked about more, and most importantly, more people came into stores.

Recently, they’ve done it again, with a little help from Chance the Rapper. All the musician had to do was tweet, “Positive Affirmations for today: I WILL have a good day, I Will succeed today, Wendy’s WILL bring back spicy nuggets at some point please please Lord let it be today.” Wendy’s responded, “Y’all keep asking, so here’s your chance. The people in charge say if you guys can get our tweet (this one right here) to 2 Million likes, they will bring SPICY CHICKEN NUGGETS BACK. Let’s freakin’ do this.” And with that, the fans were off, surpassing their goal in under two hours. Keep that in mind next time you’re going through the drive-thru.

But, why are these posts so wildly popular? First of all, they are incredibly different from any other competitor. Other brands are concerned with appearing professional at all costs, staying in their lane so as not to cause controversy. But, Wendy’s isn’t afraid to venture down the rabbit hole. They try new things, and go outside of their comfort zone.

Secondly, they allow artistic freedom. How many approvals do you think a social media post at Wendy’s needs? Zero. That’s right. NOT A SINGLE APPROVAL. According to Wendy’s chief concept and marketing officer, Kurt Kane, his marketing team didn’t feel as empowered with so many checks and balances for just one post. So, they eliminated the system. With five people on his in-house team, they have monthly pow wows and study the history and voice of Wendy’s to make sure they are “intentionally integrated”.

Thirdly, they include customer opinion. By asking for fan help, they not only spread awareness through multiple shared posts, but they allow the customer to feel included in their decision. The retweet tactic reinforces the idea of “our company gives the people what they want” and “the customer comes first”.

There’s a lot we can learn looking at Wendy’s. Here at OWL, we take pride in being real with each other, and we think that being real with our clients only enhances and enforces our trustworthy nature. Now, we aren’t saying that every brand should drop a rap album, but you shouldn’t be afraid to think outside the box. We know we’ll have our eyes on Wendy’s from now on.

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