[Editor’s note: This blog has not been edited. At all. We love the mind of our always unpredictable writer, P. Gotti, and present to you his musings on @Wendys in its full, unedited glory. Enjoy.]
Wendy’s departure from the norm is a surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one.
@Wendys is the smiling red-head with pig-tails terrorizing trolls and other fast food brands on social media. In 2012, Social Media Director Amy Brown steered Wendys’ online message in a new direction. Traditionally, corporate social media had been a regular target for needlessly crude, disgruntled customers. Brown gave Wendy a voice — pithy and slightly manic. Her invention pioneered a new communication style for corporations on the internet.
Before Brown really knew what she was doing, @Wendys was gaining Twitter followers at an exponential rate (currently the 2nd most popular fast food brand at 2.8M followers). @Wendys characteristic burns, the playful insulting of its followers, would horrify any exec in a board meeting pitch. As the @Wendys social media team explained on, they were too successful by the time executives took notice.
Amy Brown may have developed the @Wendys personality spontaneously, but it definitely now operates according to strict acting guidelines. Whether @Wendys starts them or becomes embroiled, every beef is measured. In the words of Sun Tzu, Chinese royal advisor and author of The Art of War, “a general who knows themselves and the opponent need not fear the result of 100 battles.” @Wendys doesn’t lose because @Wendys has a complex battle plan and gauges the competition.
@Wendy’s Secret Sauce
Behind the veil, @Wendys is puppeteered by a cult of meme-lords with college educations. I suspect some books in particular feature heavily in the interactions of the modern @Wendys…
Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People provides principles that build a successful persona. Carnegie’s book might be one of @Wendys foundational texts. I’ve matched some of @Wendys tweets to various rules and principles, including those from How to Win Friends and Influence People.
@Wendys and How to Win Friends and Influence People
- Think as you like, but Behave like Others
buy our cheeseburgers pic.twitter.com/tohfFsyeR4
— Wendy's (@Wendys) June 28, 2018
The first principle here is to keep controversial thoughts as private as they need to be (which is totally private, on a corporate account), but to publicly dabble in the matters that are current and popular among your people.
@Wendys most successful social media campaign broke the Guinness Book World Record for most Retweets of all time. This campaign hits a full seven principles from How to Win Friends and Influence People.
HELP ME PLEASE. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS pic.twitter.com/4SrfHmEMo3
— Carter Wilkerson (@carterjwm) April 6, 2017
• Let the Other Person Feel the Idea is Theirs.
• Be Sympathetic with the Other Person’s Ideas and Desires and Appeal to the Nobler Motives
• Dramatize your Ideas
• Throw down a Challenge
• Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest
• Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
• Create Compelling Spectacles
After @Carterwjm asked @Wendys for free chicken nuggets for life, @Wendys challenged him to garner 18 million retweets and they’d grant his request. @Carterwjm did the leg work (with some help from major corporations and celebrities).
@Wendys cheered him every bit of the way. The internet-world watched in awe, through 😂😂😂emojis, as @Carterwjm finally got his free nuggets. Wendy’s ended up gifting Carter $1000 in Wendy’s gift cards and then also donating $100K to charity — because, why not?
@Wendys and the 48 Laws of Power
On the mean streets of the internet, @Wendys is as undefeated as boxer Floyd Mayweather. They don’t seem to lose fights, because they don’t pick fights they’re going to lose. Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power, another business classic, shows how a person or entity fosters an aura of invincible power.
@Wendys recognized a fight they could win — a rap battle — and they goaded @Wingstop into a showdown. @Wendys instigated a rap battle with a (vastly) inferior lyricist and used the mirror effect to quickly wear out their opponent. @Wendys’ fans were feverishly supportive and @Wingstop’s rhymes deteriorated, as they began desperately seeking an out to end the battle. More on this exchange later…
We’re not living in 2012 anymore. @Wendys actions are monitored much more closely now. With all of the followers, scrutiny, and reputation @Wendys now carries, they cannot be allowed to misstep and hurt the corporate bottom line.
@Wendys and War
@Wendys wants to portray themselves as the “charming challenger.” Sugar or spice: you never know which you’ll get out of this hot-and-cold coquette; a law of attraction from Robert Greene’s less known The Art of Seduction.
The mystery and suspense, the air of unpredictability, and emotionality make @Wendy compelling. Only insistence on you buying their cheeseburgers is constant. In Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, we learn that mystery is essential to victory.
Sun Tzu said… “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”
Trying to catch @Wendys sleeping after hours? Unlikely…
@Wendys launches both impromptu and planned campaigns (“tweets generally require approval”) against its biggest competitor, McDonalds.
McDonalds has a way more traditional social media presence. They do not employ a cadre of 20-something meme-lords. Imagine working your stolid 9-5 social media job in fear of @Wendys burning down your tweets like Heath Ledger’s Joker — “Okay, check once — double check — triple “@Wendys” check — and… *sends tweet*
Sun Tzu said… “Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.”
And the tales of your victories will echo through the TL — I said that…
Sun Tzu said… “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”
Let’s end this full-circle, as promised, with the @Wingstop rap-battle.
We know why the chicken crossed the road
But you crossed the boss and straight got told
We had some fun, but yeah we're through
Gift wrapping this L to send home with you https://t.co/UPc2vFsoh3
— Wendy's (@Wendys) October 2, 2017
@Wendys perceived a weakness in their opponent, like Saruman did in Helms Deep. @Wendys was going to vastly out-rap @Wingstop, but this victory could only be achieved if @Wingstop would stick out their neck. Less is more.
@Wendys was able to goad @Wingstop into a combative rap battle with four words words and an emoji. Again “a general who knows themselves and the opponent need not fear the result of 100 battles”. Victory was assured here. In retrospect, @Wendys just wanted @Wingstop to say something — anything — to start the fight. @Wingstop did not know their opponent. Another one of Robert Greene’s Laws of Power is to know who you’re messing with.
What @Wingstop didn’t know is that @Wendys had some marginally better wordsmiths on the staff — @Wendys would go out to release a mixtape, We Got Beef, later in 2018. The love of rap music and youth culture runs deep in the @Wendys team. I imagine @Wingstop was employing a down-and-out cast off from the @McDonalds team; a man already on the run from @Wendys, taking pot shots, getting fired, and drifting between social media teams — sad.