Before you start your own twitter war, read this.
Even in the shadows of the NCAA basketball tournament, Wendy’s social media roasting of McDonald’s is getting a ton of ink. (Yes, we used a print analogy in a story about digital marketing. We’re that clever.) Seriously, though. The Wendy’s tweets made for great fun, and much of it was had by folks on most every platform. And presumably by the team in charge of Wendy’s social media.
The headlines ranged from spectacular to eyeroll worthy, and admittedly, we haven’t thought about Wendy’s much at all since their underwhelming Super Bowl commercial. Once the dust from the retweets and memes settled over the weekend, the business shifted to the rationale behind the number three burger chain’s move. Wendy’s boss Todd Penegor said in a CNBC interview that his brand is “defending its territory” in the fresh beef biz, and acting as a “challenger with charm.”
.@McDonalds So you’ll still use frozen beef in MOST of your burgers in ALL of your restaurants? Asking for a friend.
— Wendy’s (@Wendys) March 30, 2017
“If you think about our brand, right, we have been created on fresh never frozen North American beef since 1969,” Penegor said on CNBC’s “Power Lunch.” “We have been serving fresh beef in all of our restaurants in all of our hamburgers for almost 48 years.”
Credit Suisse analysts Jason West and Jordy Winslow said the push by McDonald’s into the fresh beef territory could improve the company’s same-store sales. They said 15 percent of those gains could be snatched from Wendy’s, thus hurting the fast food chain’s same-store sales by 30 basis points.
Penegor said he is not worried. He said he sees his rival’s announcement as a chance to allow more customers to recognize them as the originals in the fresh beef patty space.
Now before you consider whether a “roast fest” is right for your brand, and we think most probably not, consider what’s making this particular campaign so popular.
Novelty: We’ve all seen plenty of ads, gimmicks, and public relations stunts. It’s a long way from a traditional ad campaign, and Wendy’s is clearly showing us something new.
Risk taking: No doubt about it. The company fronted by the gal in the red pigtails is sure showing some moxie. And who doesn’t love a David-and-Goliath type story?
Humor: It’s a universal language. There’s enough serious stuff out there. When people, or even big national brands, can make us laugh… well that makes them all just a little more human and a lot more relatable.
Commitment: Wendy’s has been been ramping up for this opportunity since the, “Where’s the Beef?” lady, lightly poking fun at their bigger and even smaller rivals. But with McD’s about to enter their turf, the gloves are obviously off.
It’s in real time: Acting and reacting in “real time” is how it’s done. Wendy’s didn’t wait for a quarterly marketing meeting to decide how they’d react to the McDonald’s news. It was served up hot and fresh.
Right now, it’s a pretty good recipe for keeping Wendy’s in the fast food conversation, and the chain’s stock is outperforming in its category. But these very same ingredients don’t always mix well, and there’s no guarantee they’ll sell burgers, fries, and Frosties. Just ask K-Mart how many pants they sold – or shipped – after applying some of this very same voodoo.
Looking for long-lasting branding? Yes, novelty, risk-taking, humor, commitment, and the luck of “real time” can all be part of the plan. But staying true to your brand, its story, and your clients needs are solid bets for success. Even if you’re never part of a viral video, twitter roast, or CNBC interview.