Wendy’s “Crack the master” Social Media Campaign


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Today’s social world requires a high level of innovation when it comes to getting ahead in the marketplace. Social media affordances like youtube, facebook and twitter can really set a business up for success by getting access to millions of potential customers. Today the discussion is focused on the Wendy’s Social Media Campaign Crack the Masters.  Described best as an interactive click through choose your own adventure Youtube video game.  The campaign was designed by an agency to promote new limited time pulled pork items. For fast food they found a way to engage with the mobile community unlike the competitors. After 2 months and over 3,290,000 views on the first landing video it is easy to think success. Further analyzation will show if it truly was an innovator in social media. More about the history Wendy’s and the Agency VML will demonstrate how the campaign stacks up against indicators internal and external.

Wendys Background

Wendy’s history goes back to 1969 when they opened however as for television they appeared 15 years later. Remember the “Where’s the beef?” lady? She first appeared 1984 in the first Wendy’s TV commercial. Wendy’s later switched to Dave the founder whom appeared in over 800 commercials until he passed of cancer in 2002. Now they are looking use television commercials about sweet, spicy, and smokey to engage with the intended demographic differently unlike before. Today, Wendy’s is the third largest burger fast food chain in the world with more than 6,500 locations. Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers was named after Dave’s daughter Melinda “Wendy” Thomas. The place immediately got the attention of the industry because they provided made to order burgers with fresh meat.

VML Background

Getting the attention of people is the job of creative agency VML. Wendy’s has been using them since 2002. With big names like Colgate-Palmolive, Kellogg, Dell, Microsoft, and Southwest Airlines made a killing by acquiring a diverse portfolio. The experience is one of the strengths of the agency. VML has a great history of strategic planning for their social media campaigns. Dissecting the Wendy’s VML Campaign strengthens our understanding of what the two companies apparent goals if they are on track for success.

Apparent Goals

Chris Corley, group creative director at VML said “We did want to engage our audience in a more interactive way instead of just exposing them passively to video content.” As for Wendy’s it is clear that distinguishing themselves in the ever changing social media game is important.  The fast food joint is utilizing mobile-optimized games to increase awareness of their new product and hopefully increase sales in the process. The agency also mentioned that it wanted to meet the audience where they are on social media because driving them away from the platform may restrict fans participation. All of the campaign goals hold together by reading anything about the the two companies who address the campaign in articles online. (See Source 2 & 6) Wendy’s media channels require some video and linking system to be able to reach the above goals. Youtube, Facebook, and twitter would expose the videos via paid and organic advertising opportunities. Information collected since the campaign’s inception early September shows the experience on Youtube was considered first as a media channel focus.

Media Channel Focus : Youtube

see Appendix A, B, C, D, and E

After research on pulled pork sandwiches at festivals and popular BBQ places, Wendy’s is offering fans to receive the smokey, sweet, and spicy info via several new interactive game on YouTube, designed to offer various characters’ biggest BBQ secrets. Loyal fans may watch the videos on their smartphones and then become unable to resist a visit their nearest Wendy’s location and pick up a pulled pork sandwich. Why is youtube the choice application you ask? The interactive user experience is most apparent on YouTube, because it uses clickable video overlays that other platforms just do not have. Twitter and Facebook are forced to include hyperlinks in the text area of the post, which the user must click to progress the story. And, on some of the combinations, the arrow pointing to the hyperlinked choices gives the viewer a wrong direction to click. Youtube was a primary focus campaigns came after the fact. The agency created it first followed by facebook then twitter respectively.

Apparent Time Frame (Chp 2 Focus)

The apparent time frame follows the product they are pitching to the customer. The BBQ awareness campaign like many others starts strongly and tapers off with time. Social media works uniquely when compared to traditional advertising, and may require diligence before results are achieved. Although a television campaign can utilize a heavy buy early in its media plan to incite near immediate awareness and build momentum, social media are just the opposite according to Tracy Tuten who wrote Social Media Marketing. It can take months for a social media campaign to build awareness (and there are many more that have failed to this). If the plan is going to work, the organization must be patient while the fans interact with the content and the relationship. The overall strength and productivity of the social media model can be well worth the patience and resources needed. Starting with the introductory video getting 319K views in september and almost a month later it increased by 300 percent at million views. The time frame is essential in understanding the effectiveness of BBQ campaign.

Media Channel Focus : Facebook

see Appendix F & G

The Facebook app shows video views with about twice the amount of youtube. Youtube has one million views to the two million views. However, the success is not measurable by this count alone. When analyzing each of the 13 choosable videos we find users never made it to the second video on Facebook. The hyperlink above the video really creates a disconnection unlike Youtube embedded links. How do I know this? By tracking the links on bitly, a dynamic link tracker, seeing the drop in viewers shows that links were less likely to be pressed. One of the weaknesses of the Facebook Channel but its success stands with making sure it was available. We wanted to complement the BBQ Pulled Pork message with a fun digital video experience,” says Mike Bueno, director of digital marketing at Wendy’s, Columbus, OH. “We also know that digital video views are shifting more and more toward mobile, and moreover, that our consumers live on their mobile devices. So delivering the experience in a mobile-centric format was a must.” Wendy’s and VML knew that responding to chatter on Facebook could yield fans in their favor. Facebook helped Wendy’s focus on consumers who were not visiting youtube or twitter.

Media Channel Focus : Twitter

see Appendix H & I

Twitter is known for its 140 character limits but not its interactivity with video. Like the Facebook attempt it utilizes hyperlinking above the video play. Similar problems interacting with Twitter is what hold it at number three spot for engagement. Twitter really is meant to share links and text. The video option works with Twitter interface but we see drops after first video play. Creating the best experience that is consistent across the channels helps us understand why certain companies decide to use specific social outlets. Twenty two thousand was the highest amount of traffic generated with twitter. Eight retweets and 16 favorites on Twitter near the beginning now with numbers only increased by one and 4 respectively. The hashtag was not utilized which is worth mentioning. A majority utilize this feature to organize traffic but VML leaves it out of this campaign.


Lack of Focus : Instagram

If you were to visit the Wendy’s instagram page, no mention of Crack the Master BBQ interactive game. But why? When creating a focus it is apparent that some social media channels had better avenues for video play back. Instagram limits the time and also makes linking to other images or videos nearly impossible. The social media industry is very forgivable when leaving out instagram for this reason alone as long as the campaign focus makes its presence aware.

How are others compare?

Others in fast food have come close to what Wendy’s attempt at interactivity and fan loyalty. The video game industry once had Burger King come to it asking for some help creating a playstation game. This is old news. However, it is probably the closest thing we can connect to Wendy’s Videos. The king created a go kart game. Wendy created a social media game. It is easy to draw similar parallels when taking the companies histories into account. The success is created by the difference of these two campaigns. The social media piece is inherently more easy to share than a Playstation CD. Not to mention you dont need a console. Wendy’s fans are more likely to have a mobile device compared to a gaming console. This capitalizes on this one distinct comparison.

How would you measure success? Indicator external or internal? And did it do its job?

The success is in VML’s social media marketing plan. Studying the Wendy’s case clearly shows its success is in planning because they thoughtfully considered all the strengths and weaknesses. The relationship development in social communities, social publishing, social entertainment, and social commerce. Within each zone are many specific vehicles VML best suited to reach a certain audience. The audience for the Wendy’s promo is discovering CrackTheMasters a few different ways. On Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, the brand is running video ads targeted to barbecue-interested users and the Millennial demographic. For instance, to meet the coveted goals and the social media patterns of a target audience that includes college students, the planner may determine that the campaign should include social networking, social publishing, and social games. These zones from Social Media Marketing help us show the relationship with success and where the brand was winning.

Engagement how would measure/observe it…

Social media is designed to drive engagement and increase sales. To measure this with Wendy’s looking at the video views or the number of times a link is clicked is an indicator. Sales is a little harder at this to determine at this point with figures hidden behind corporate policy. The best part of this campaign was the ability to follow the engagement through tools offered by the internet. Youtube gives us a graph showing how the traffic decreases after October 12th. Did engagement drop off? It is hard to tell, but it is likely that the limited time offer has been relinquished after this date. Another mentionable topic is the drop of engagement from the first video to next. In this you-pick story information indicates views at two thousand or so with the second click. VML lost nearly all engagement after the first video which sits at one million plus views. This is true about the other forms of social media in the same comparison. We learn engagement decreases after the first click.  Facebook follows suit when comparing clicks to the bitly links. TV commercials were the most widely broadcast hoping to lead the consumer to finding CracktheMaster social sites to find out secrets from the Barbeque masters. The campaign did reach over 4 million people from the first video. Continued engagement faltered after this giving a number under 10,000 people whom actually did the full click through. This points at failure from the perspective social media goals. One of which was to get the viewer to continue through suggested click areas to help the audience gain more insight about the new menu item and learn BBQ secrets.


Connecting internal indicators and external indicators presents what is in control of the Wendy’s campaign. It is important to learn how this affects whether or not the campaign was successful. Wendy’s social power is creating innovative marketplace competition, an internal indicator of strength. One weakness found that planning did not account for drop of viewers after first video or even would be less likely to click options that were not the top hyperlink. These were controllable from a planner’s perspective. Interactivity in video is still so young with the mobile consumer. Opportunities are external attractive factors that represent reasons the business is likely to prosper. They took the mobile direction attacking all the major social media channels with something they have never seen before. This shows them as leaders in the opportunity conversation. Threats include external factors beyond control that could place the strategy, or the business itself, at risk. Wendy’s has no control over these, but may benefit by having contingency plans to address them if they should occur. One that comes to mind would be comments about the material that could become inappropriate.

At the end of things, Wendy’s and VML have done a great job overall addressing their place as a front leader in marketplace. They are the third best burger joint in America for reasons that have been listed above. If they are going to rise to the cream of the crop, it will happen after learning from this social media campaign. CrackTheMasters was very interactive but did not engage as the campaign’s goals had wanted. While many of the articles and news would boast the good. We have to always start from the foundation of goals and ask a question. Did it work as it was intended, or did we find information that will help us moving forward? Trying new things is innovative and creates outcomes almost always resulting something learned.  The campaigns results show its strength in planning and innovating. If continued, VML and Wendy’s will hold the eyes of the consumer and the loyal fan generating future successes like CrackTheMasters.

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Wendy’s “Crack the master” Social Media Campaign