Social Media

‘We decided to stop advertising’: Why Wendy’s throws shade at competitors like McDonald’s on Twitter

Matthew Elmas /

Cracking the social media code has been an obsession for business marketing managers and owners since, well, since social media was a thing.

There have been some spectacular failures, such as that time Nutella let social media users create their own labels, or when Boost Juice asked users to submit their names for their free drink promotion.

But one business that’s been lauded for its take on the world of social media marketing is US-based fast-food chain Wendy’s, which has adopted a frank and sassy approach to its Twitter account that’s received global attention.

The fast-food chain doesn’t pull punches on the social platform, gathering a following of over two million users with its antics, which include roasting competitors like McDonald’s.

Viral tweets, news coverage and a mention on Ellen Degeneres are just some of the wins.

But while the management of the account might seem a bit rough and ready at first glance, there’s a good deal of business rationale behind the combative strategy.

In a recent interview with Entrepreneur, Wendy’s chief marketing officer Kurt Kane explained customers associate its brand with real people, so it has to act like a real person on Twitter.

“The biggest thing we decided was to stop advertising to people and to start having a conversation with people,” Kane said.

Kane doesn’t think all businesses should act like Wendy’s on social media, but he does believe in the need to identify what a specific brand is, and then represent that genuinely to customers.

For Wendy’s, that just happens to mean throwing shade at the biggest fast-food chains in the world.

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Matthew Elmas

Matthew is the news editor at SmartCompany.

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