Not only is the first time Wendy’s has directly called out a competitor in its TV advertising, the brand is also trying to translate the sassiness of its social media posts — which customers have come to love, according to a spokesperson in a statement provided to Marketing Dive — to reach a wider broadcast audience.
Wendy’s typically takes a bold and lighthearted marketing approach with name-calling, puns and social media stunts targeting its competitors. Its regular Twitter jabs at other fast-food chains routinely get tens of thousands of likes, retweets and comments. Consumers even encourage the snarkiness, further driving engagement and proving how social media feuds can serve as a winning strategy. On National Compliment Day in January, Wendy’s was challenged to compliment McDonald’s. It responded with: “They are absolutely amazing at freezing beef.”
Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” ad from 1984 is one of the most iconic Super Bowl ads, and nearly 35 years later, the fast-food chain is as snarky as ever, as it continues to call out its competitors on social media and emphasize the quality of its products over theirs. Back then, it was about the size of the beef patty, now it’s the freshness of ingredients.
Americans’ eating habits are evolving with a greater emphasis on fresh, healthy foods, and millennials are known for being particularly health conscious and preferring fast-casual chains. Fast-food joints are looking for creative, entertaining ways to lure consumers back to their restaurants, and many are realizing that social media stunts are a top way to do so to reach today’s consumers.
Last year, Wendy’s gave one of its fans a year’s supply of chicken nuggets after one of his tweets received 3.5 million retweets, breaking a Twitter record. It also got in a Twitter “rap battle” with Wingstop, which earned Wingstop 9 million impressions. When Wendy’s received backlash after dropping its spicy chicken nuggets last October, Burger King took advantage of the situation by releasing its own limited-run version and giving away a free order to customers named Wendy, a clever move to give Wendy’s a taste of its own medicine and drum up some excitement among consumers.
Wendy’s has talked up its use of fresh beef before. Frozen beef was also the subject of Wendy’s Super Bowl spot last year. Set to Foreigner’s song, “Cold as Ice,” the ad didn’t name other fast food chains, but showed the “Othr Guyz” freezer full of frozen patties and an employee thawing out a stack with a hairdryer.