Why Wendy’s is making fun of Burger King

When Wendy’s posted a tweet boasting about its super value meal, long-time rival Burger King was quick to respond with a tweet showcasing its better value meal deal. Wendy’s wasted no time and, after being prompted by a Twitter fan, shot back at Burger King, stating their food was at least edible. This was just one of many tweets from Wendy’s lately, part of what people are calling the “Wendy’s Roast.” Wendy’s has also been burning brands like McDonald’s, while also just ripping on the Twittersphere in general.

It is generally in a marketing team’s nature to keep things calm, cool and collected online. Nobody wants to tip the boat, and brands are generally scared of causing too much drama on social media in fear that their tweet or post explodes online: bad viral content can be severely damaging for a brand. But as Wendy’s, along with other brands like Campbell’s Soup have demonstrated, there is actually a benefit to finding and sticking to a certain tone when it comes to a campaign, even if that tone is somewhat negative.

So how does a business decide they want to create a voice for their business that may involve “roasting” people online? A brand’s tone/voice can be different on all social media platforms, and should encompass not only who their followers are, but who actually engages, who they reach and, most importantly, who they want to be reaching.

In my opinion, Wendy’s has in the last year taken on a much younger image, on Twitter specifically, to chase down their younger demographic online. Wendy’s doesn’t need to reach 30-50-year-olds online – if a 40-year-old is craving a spicy chicken sandwich, they know where to go. But the younger demographics tend to favour McDonald’s and Taco Bell, mostly due to their prices and somewhat “cooler” marketing.

If we examine Wendy’s voice on Twitter over the last year, we can see them using terms like “bae” (a slang term used for babe), retweeting fan-made memes and gifs and even using emojis in conversational tweets not aimed at marketing at all, but directed at interacting with the Internet. These sorts of tweets are generally unknown to most corporate brands, which focus primarily on marketing their product. There is a magic to doing this sort of anti-marketing, though, when handled correctly.

Even Campbell’s Soup decided to go the racy route after hundreds of people on their social media complained last year about their commercial with two gay dads in it. Campbell’s opted to reply to everyone with snarky remarks like, “Just like your Betsy Ross American Flag, it appears your views on the world are outdated by roughly 200 years! We at Campbell’s Kitchen cordially invite you to join us in the 21st Century where the rest of the world resides.”

Choosing this kind of voice takes dedication, and a certain risk. Campbell’s and Wendy’s were both prepared for the backlash, and the certain amount of customers they would lose by picking up this tone online. But they traded that risk for the reward of being noticed by the digital world as doing something different, and for owning their brand voice.

If you think you want to try something as daring as the Wendy’s roast technique for your business, here are the things you need to do to prepare:

1. Choose your target market, and use that to create a tone for your brand (even the snarkiest Twitter accounts have a consistent brand voice). Make sure you’ve decided which social media platforms you will be running your campaign on.

2. Be prepared for anything that comes your way. Things could get messy, so make sure you have a plan in case your idea goes south.

3. Find time and manpower – you’ll need to be on the watch 24/7 online to respond quickly and efficiently to whatever comes your way.

4. Be creative. The most innovative ideas are what get rewarded online. Don’t follow in another brand’s footsteps – carve your own path to success.

Dani Gagnon is a social media consultant at Dani G Inc. She’ll be speaking about creating buzz for your brand on a budget at The 2017 Globe and Mail Small Business Summit. It’s a one-day conference of insightful sessions, proven business growth strategies and innovative ideas from the country’s brightest business leaders

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