Wendy's #NuggsforCarter Case Study

How the brand personality we created for Wendy's led to an organic viral sensation.

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Oct 31, 2018
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Background
Most brands are skittish about genuinely engaging in real time with their social media audiences, but Wendy’s is different, engaging in banter with fans and playfully teasing trolls every day.

We’ve helped them create such a distinct personality by it by combining a consistent, conversational voice with topical, relevant humour and playful sarcasm. This formula has given Wendy’s community management the ability to do great things with its social community.

Such was the case in April when 16-year-old Carter Wilkerson (@carterjwm) tweeted Wendy’s and asked how many retweets it would take to earn himself free chicken nuggets for a year. Our brief exchange went viral organically and led to a mainstream media blitz unlike any we’ve ever seen. In fact, it led to Carter’s tweet about Wendy’s chicken nuggets being the most retweeted of all time!

 

Creative Solution
An important factor in our brand health scores and our general popularity is being rated highly on the metric “Wendy’s is a brand for people like me.” To achieve this, our voice needs to be familiar, and we need to be able to engage our audience in topics and conversations that are interesting and meaningful to them.

It’s also very important that our reach and exposure are driven organically. We want all our interactions to be authentic and strike a chord with consumers in such a way that they want to share on our behalf.

So, when we responded to Carter’s request for free nuggets, we did so as one of his friends might. We issued a challenge with a wink and a smile. The reactions that occurred next no one could possibly have predicted. Before we knew it, celebrities and brands championed Carter’s “cause,” getting it mainstream media attention.

As Carter began to rack up more than 2 million retweets to become the second-most-retweeted tweet of all time (surpassing notable tweets from President Barack Obama and One Direction), we decided to involve the tweeter of the most-retweeted tweet ever, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, whose Oscar selfie stood atop the list with more than 3.2 million retweets.We upped the ante and tweeted that when Carter’s tweet beats Ellen’s, we would donate $100,000 to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in Carter’s name.

Ellen included the story in her monologue that week, and Carter even appeared on her show.

  This exchange was the culmination of a refined social voice meeting the right opportunity. And it went like this: @carterjwm: Yo @Wendys how many retweets for a year of free chicken nuggets? WENDY’S: 18 Million @carterjwm: Consider it done The rest is Twitter history.

Wendy's #NuggsforCarter Case Study from VMLY&R London on Vimeo.


Results
Carter’s tweet about Wendy’s chicken nuggets earned 3.5 million+ retweets — the most-retweeted tweet ever. Resulting in winning a retweet challenge against Ellen DeGeneres, who hosted Carter on her show. The campaign generated over 2.5 billion earned media impressions from 1,076 placements, including top-tier outlets like Fast Company, The NY Times, the TODAY Show, Time, NPR, USA Today, BBC and more. Over 5 million online mentions were made of Carter’s quest for Wendy’s nuggets, also organically boosting conversation mentioning Wendy’s 376% year over year. Other brand accounts like Guinness World Records, Twitter, Amazon, Microsoft and Google chimed in — along with a whole host of celebrities. Twitter verified Carter’s account AND donated a custom emoji triggered by the #NuggsForCarter hashtag, used 234,000+ times. @Wendys earned 213,000 new Twitter followers and 23.9 million visits to its Twitter profile. 

 

Oh, and Wendy’s gave Carter his year of free chicken nuggets. 

 

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VMLY&R London

VMLY&R is a global marketing agency with more than 7,000 employees worldwide with principal offices in Kansas City, London, New York, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. VMLY&R works with client partners including Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Dell, Ford, Office Depot, PepsiCo, Pfizer and Wendy’s.

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