three byte-sized lessons from a supersized campaign

Fresh, never frozen lessons from Wendy’s marketing

Wendy’s digital marketing team has always been impressively in-tune with what the internet likes. They’ve long since become well-known for roasting people on Twitter, and to top it off? They’re actually funny.

More recently they’ve launched their “Super Wendy’s World” campaign to target gamers, and with the size of the industry it’s easy to see why. They’ve even partnered up with Uber Eats for their “Never Stop Gaming” menu to build some more hype.

Wendy’s has some comparatively large buying power, but it’s the methods behind this madness that should interest all marketers, everywhere. They didn’t just throw money at various vendors and gaming platforms; they did so much more than that.

So here are three byte-sized lessons we can take from this supersized campaign:

Play the game

One of the cardinal sins of digital marketing is to join a new platform and just start blasting your followers with ads. Wendy’s marketing team is successful because they don’t do this. They look at a platform, learn how to use it, and then figure out how to make it work for them.

Case-in-point is their Twitter account. They easily could have started out by tweeting generic advertising messages, like most brands. Instead, they filled their followers’ Twitter feeds with interactions and snappy comebacks. Their social media presence has personality, not just a customer service voice. What’s more, these interactions led to individuals reaching out to the Wendy’s account, which led to even more attention.

Their agency did the same with the Super Wendy’s World campaign. Each week on Twitch, they “brought Wendy to life” in video games from Smash Bros to Super Mario, “playing each game with an anti-frozen twist.”

For example, when they set out to make a splash in the game Fortnite, they made a Wendy avatar and spent nine hours doing something funny and thematic; destroying the freezers in the burger restaurants. To top it off? Fortnite developers removed the freezers from the game afterward. Wendy’s: 1. Frozen beef: 0.

By joining in on the fun, Wendy’s proved they understood the gaming community better than other brands. They engaged the community, instead of just advertising to them.

Don’t cut corners

Wendy’s is famous for their square hamburgers, and as they’ve said on Twitter, it’s because they don’t cut any corners. It’s a clever line, and it resonates with consumers. And a great example of working your values into your messaging.

They also clearly have buy-in from C-level for their marketing campaigns. This is no mean feat, and the execs probably weren’t on board from the beginning. But they were most likely able to pitch these bigger, off-the wall ideas by celebrating the success they found on social media, first.

So, what can we learn? Figure out what you’re doing well digitally, and build off of that. Use each success to fuel something bigger and more ambitious. Show the execs what you’re doing right, and then what you could be doing better. When you have the bigwigs on your side, you won’t have to cut corners to get approval.

Team up and play to everyone’s strengths

If there’s one lesson online games will teach you, it’s the value of cooperative play. You ignore your team at your own peril. Wendy’s clearly understands that teamwork makes the dream work.

This was especially clear with Wendy’s “Never Stop Gaming” menu. The Wendy’s team was savvy enough pursue a good opportunity when they saw it, and they teamed up with Uber Eats instead of trying to branch out into a new industry. The campaign also brought in some pro streamers to help provide the actual content.

It’s easy to see why this approach worked out for everyone. They all go to do what they do best, and share the success. In other words, you don’t have to go it alone.

Overall, the Wendy’s digital marketing team does a great job of showing off the creativity, personality, and approachability of their brand. By cooperating, collaborating and most of all participating, their messaging comes across as authentic and receives an enthusiastic response.

Sam Dicken

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