What Marketer’s Can Learn From Wendy’s Recent Viral Social Media Moment

Updated: February 24, 2024

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As social media seems to prove time and again, going “viral” isn’t necessarily something you can plan on – it tends to happen when you least expect it.

Case in point: fast food giant Wendy’s recently found itself on the receiving end of the right kind of attention this week when it proved to not only have a sense of humor about itself, but about its fiercest competitors, too.

Who Knew Insulting People Would Prove to Be Such an Effective Social Media Marketing Tactic?

Wendy’s viral attention began innocently enough, when Twitter users @TinyGrande19 tweeted “how do you feel that people build your restaurant besides a McDonalds?”

The reply, which came from Wendy’s official Twitter account, would make even the great insult comic Don Rickles sit up and take notice: “Even in the worst places, it’s nice for people to have hope.”

A 21st Century Approach to A 21st Century Brand

The viral barb is the latest of many signs that we’re not talking about your parents’ fast food chain anymore. Starting January 2, Wendy’s has begun transforming its brand for a new audience.

Gone are the days of polite, helpful, customer-centric interactions on social media – the type one would expect from such a time honored brand.

In its place is one of the “realest” marketing campaigns taking place on Twitter or any other network today and one thing’s for sure: people are already talking about it.

Other social media users are loving Wendy’s hilarious new attitude, but marketers have started to take notice as well.

One marketer said “Wendy’s is a legacy brand. How and when did you get approval to go rogue?”

The new campaign has also been the subject of widespread media coverage, earning mentions on Anderson Cooper‘s CNN program, among others.

Lessons Learned for Marketers

So what can we learn about marketing from Wendy’s recent viral social media 2017 moment?

That consumers ARE craving more than just hamburgers – they’re putting a premium on honesty, too.

They don’t want to wade through lawyer-approved corporate speak whenever they interact with a brand. They want integrity.

They want something genuine. They want something, well, real.

Wendy’s is just the first brand to take this ball and run with it into a full-fledged (and hilarious) war on their competition, but you can’t argue that it isn’t already working for them.

Starting with the Wendy’s official “relaunch” on January 2, the company’s Twitter profile was changed to read “We like our tweets the same way we like to make hamburgers: better than anyone expects from a fast-food joint.”

It seems that not only are there a lot of people out there who agree, but they’re also hungry for hamburgers, too.


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