With McDonald's set to nationally introduce fresh beef patties for some of its burgers later in 2018, Wendy's brought its already-combative social-media messaging to the Super Bowl.
Wendy's 30-second spot from VML starts by highlighting wording on McDonald's website on how its burgers are "flash frozen." Then Wendy's turns up the snark that has become a hallmark.
The decision to fire a direct hit at McDonald's came a year after Wendy's first Super Bowl spot more broadly called out "Othr Guyz" that serve frozen beef ("Cold Storage"). That spot helped increase overall awareness that Wendy's uses only fresh beef for its hamburgers. But Wendy's knew McDonald's "hot off the grill" effort was heating up and could become a threat. Not only was McDonald's the largest restaurant chain by a wide margin, but more than 90 percent of customers go to both Wendy's and McDonald's, according to Wendy's research.
"It was important to really clearly draw the distinction between Wendy's and McDonald's because we know many customers go to both and we wanted to make sure that people knew the difference between those two choices," Wendy's Chief Concept and Marketing Officer Kurt Kane told Ad Age before the game.
The decision to run a Super Bowl spot with the message came with days left to go. "We wanted to make sure that we had a strong enough message to go on, but made the final decision actually this week," Kane said in an article published Jan. 31. The spot, which does not include any spoken words, "was just very direct and honest and we think people respond really well to that."
"We were actually eager to go back onto the game, we just wanted to make sure that we felt good about the overall financial investment to do so," he added.
And, of course, Wendy's being Wendy's, there were plenty of plans to keep the message going on social media. (It works with VML on creative and social media both.)
The day before the 2017 Super Bowl, Wendy's had roughly 1.39 million Twitter followers. Following that campaign and other social efforts including the #NuggsForCarter phenomenon, Wendy's nearly a year later had more than 2.3 million followers on Twitter.
QUARTER AIRED: Q1