In January, Wendy’s Super Bowl commercial began by pointing to what it called a “not so hidden gem” on the McDonald’s website, which says the beef is flash frozen to seal in fresh flavor (McDonald’s has since rolled out fresh beef with all its Quarter Pounder and Signature Crafted Recipe products).
“The iceberg that sank the Titanic was frozen, too,” the Wendy’s commercial says, “(just sayin’).”
While the TV spot raised eyebrows across the country, Loredo says it’s less about signaling out McDonald’s than it is about highlighting what makes his company different.
“A big component for us is making sure our consumers do know there’s a difference There’s a choice you’re making,” he says. “McDonald’s become an opportunity for us to share the difference. This isn’t about us versus McDonald’s.”
In the sea of branded accounts, Wendy’s definitely stands out, particularly on Twitter, which tends to feature more text-heavy content than other visually driven social platforms.
“They're interesting because they have this edgy, snarky, humorous presence on Twitter especially,” says Jonathan Gardner, VP of marketing at ShareIQ, a software platform that helps brands optimize social media content. “They're one of the [quick-service] brands that definitely does a lot of it. And a lot of brands are trying to copy that and follow the leader.”
Wendy’s also earns high marks for engagement with its Twitter followers.
“Their images, their videos and their text have high engagement. They get shared a lot. It gets retweeted and liked a lot,” Gardner says. “McDonald’s—that video heavy feed of theirs basically product spots—get watched a lot but they don’t get shared and liked a lot. So their engagement is a little different.”
Even so, the social approach at Wendy’s varies greatly between platforms. While it’s known for having a fun, snarky tone on Twitter, Wendy’s acts much more traditional on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, Gardner says.
“It’s almost as if their Twitter is managed by a different team or has a different strategy or objective,” he says. “It’s almost like the marketing team said Twitter is where we're going to have fun and everywhere else is going to be traditional … Maybe it's as simple as different people owning different channels.”
And this shows in the numbers: Domino’s, for example, earns 11 times more engagement on Instagram than Wendy’s, he says. While it’s difficult to determine the exact relationship between social media engagement and sales, Gardner says it’s an important piece of building loyalty and traffic.
It’s probably easier to build a unique voice on text-heavy Twitter. But Gardner says Wendy’s could do a lot more to optimize its presence on Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms. Many other branded accounts win big with fun gifs, pictures of cute puppies and resharing customer posts.
“It’s harder to be snarky or edgy on the visual platforms, but I don’t know if that translates to let’s be kind of dull on the visual platforms. I don’t know why a brand would choose not to optimize all their platforms,” he says. “When you have a huge brand like Wendy’s, they’re going to have a huge mix of mediums … Earned media and social media is important. It’s a moving target. There’s always more that brands can be doing to optimize and perform better.”