On today’s Bullseye – Wendy’s looks to the stars and embraces Mercury Retrograde with free food. Now you have to download Wendy’s app to participate, and the program lunched on April 21st and this is the last week where you can get a free any size hot & crispy fries with any purchase. It’s an interesting 3-week promotion that offered a different free food over the three-week period: by one get one free sandwiches, free chicken sandwich, free 6 piece chicken nuggets and in the last week – the free fries. To be honest I think the tie in with the planets is a bit of a stretch. Mercury Retrograde, the time when the planet Mercury moves slower than the Earth around the sun, purports that during this period we experience meltdowns, false gossip, miscommunication, and technology fails - and the premise that Wendy’s marketing folks have is that by offering free food the company says, it will help us cope with the potential chaos that will ensue.
First, I really have no idea how many people actually take heed in Mercury Retrograde. Second, I don’t know if these folks are actual Wendy’s customers – or that this promotion will bring those who follow Mercury Retrograde into a Wendy’s restaurant. And lastly – I don’t know if giving free food will actually soothe these people’s psyche. Wendy’s launched “National Roast Day” in 2018 where they invite people to a three-day event April 12-14 on TikTok asking – and in some cases, begging, Wendy to “roast” them. In previous years, the roasting was on Twitter, but this time it’s on TikTok. On Twitter – where the promotion was just 24 hours, they received over 130 million requests.
This year on TikTok, which in all fairness, posting a video IS slightly harder than just writing a tweet, Wendy’s shared 11 videos with over 109 million views over the 3-day period. In looking at a bunch of the videos, frankly, in my opinion, most of them were pretty lame – and talking about lame – Wendy’s automated AI response videos were even more lame. In today’s AI world she could have easily customized the video to include the people’s names and the animation, well, kinda amateurish. The even did a segment on the TODAY show, which I don’t know if they actually paid for or not – but it looks like they did, where they “roasted” Al Roker’s White House Easter Egg roll question to Joe Biden about running again – take a look. Wendy – his name is Al – would have been much more powerful to include that And by the way, As much as I hate to admit it – when you used Twitter it was a lot more fun and interesting. The way the campaign got its start was back in November 2017 Wendy’s tweeted and hash tagged McDonald’s – When the tweets are as broken as the ice cream machine.
One of my favorite Tweets came from Gina – I wanna go on a date with @Wendys and take them to a real burger joint @BurgerKing. For me both these campaigns miss the point – sure they are playful – but let’s remember we are talking food. If Wendy’s or whichever fast-food restaurants want to increase sales – let’s look at the menu, make real improvements and tell us about those. And by the way, Wendy’s foods aren’t roasted - they use a flash cooking method that has the burgers in a clamshell grill that’s timed to tell the cook when they are ready. Another lame promotion in my book.