Everyone who is susceptible to advertising is familiar with Wendy’s and their “Fresh, never Frozen” slogan. Their consistent growth has allowed them to become McDonald’s biggest competition in the fast food burger market. While Wendy’s trails McDonald’s in size, popularity, and revenue, it beats them in Twitter followers. As of June 12, 2020, McDonald’s only had 3.6 million followers to Wendy’s 3.7 million followers. The difference is small, but given the difference in success of the corporations, Wendy’s has no business having a similar following to McDonald’s, much less surpassing them. How has Wendy’s been able to outcompete the world’s biggest fast food chain on social media?
The Wendy’s Twitter account is notorious among young people for posting “savage” content and responses, especially when interacting with other fast food accounts. Most food accounts use their social media purely for self-promotion, but Wendy’s saw the opportunity to assert their dominance on a platform that did not have a clear hierarchy like the fast food industry in real life. It seems counterintuitive for a company to publicly make fun of customers, but Wendy’s has found a way to turn seemingly mean-spirited encounters into an advantage. They’ve roasted McDonald’s, Burger King, Carl’s Jr., and a host of other competitors’ accounts on numerous occasions, all to the delight of the public. In addition to roasting other fast food accounts, they’ve started taking on everyone and anyone who wants to feel the wrath of the Wendy’s social media department with #NationalRoastDay. On this day, the account responds to people and other companies that tweet at them asking to be roasted, and they don’t hold back. Even though they tweet criticisms of other companies’ products, they have plenty of eager suitors that see the value in getting roasted.
While many companies shy away from any sort of negative reviews of their products, those that choose to tweet at Wendy’s subscribe to the belief that all press is good press. As a reward of sorts for going toe to toe with Wendy’s, businesses receive free advertising to Wendy’s massive follower base. Even in a somewhat negative context, there is value in having your company name seen by 3.7 million people. For individuals, getting roasted by Wendy’s is just a fun experience. They only roast people who ask for it, so there is no risk of receiving public backlash for being too mean unless they really cross a line. However, with years of experience tweeting shocking content, it seems like Wendy’s is unlikely to slip up in that regard. Other companies have taken note of Wendy’s success with the tactic, prompting brands like Jimmy’s Famous Seafood and the Atlanta Chick–Fil–A starting to create controversial and funny tweets. Although tweeting negative material seems like it would hurt a brand’s image, Wendy’s has found a way to turn the playful negativity into attention that has been a huge asset for their business.