How Wendy's turned your fans into ours.
Founded in 1969, Wendy’s set out to differentiate itself in the fast-food industry by doing things that consumers could love and doing them the right way. Wendy’s was the newcomer fast-food challenger with charm. However, 50 years later, most Americans viewed it the same way they saw other traditional fast-food brands. How might we make America fall in love with Wendy’s again?
To get love, you must give love. There are songs and self-help books about it. We all crave appreciation and affirmation.
When Americans want to show love and appreciation, we create holidays. From traditional, like Valentine’s Day, to less traditional, like Thank a Mail Carrier Day, or even the most informal, like a friendaversary, holidays are how we show we care. So creating a holiday to show America love was the perfect idea.
What if we showed our love differently by roasting America? Almost paradoxically, we roast the ones we love. It’s a sign of closeness and endearment. And people love Wendy’s roasts.
If Valentine’s Day is devoted to momentous displays of love and affection, then National Roast Day is Wendy’s way of showing love and affection: by roasting anyone who asks.
After we announced our completely made-up floating holiday, global brands, regular people, bands, professional sports teams, celebrities, nobodies, celebrity nobodies (aka influencers), and even more brands all lined up to be roasted. They knowingly asked for a takedown and then proudly shared it as a point of pride. In fact, we directly handed out roasts to anyone who asked for them, sending a roast every 86 seconds — and still didn’t get to all of our requests.
Our made-up holiday, #NationalRoastDay, was so talked about that it organically became a trending topic on Twitter and increased mentions of Wendy’s by 1,224%. We generated more than 30 million organic Twitter impressions and more than 130 million earned media impressions in a matter of hours. Some of the world’s biggest brands included our made-up holiday on their marketing calendars. It even spread to other platforms, such as TikTok, driving more than 10.5 million views of #NationalRoastDay.