Witty or Witless? Three Perspectives on How Wendy's Tackled a Twitter Troll

01.12.2017  /  Northlich Braintrust

You may have seen the recent Twitter exchange Wendy’s had with a user who tried to call them out on the truth of their slogan, “Always fresh, never frozen.” If you haven’t, check out this article in The Daily Dot for a recap.

While Wendy’s seems to have come through the exchange looking clever, some have wondered if the message was really on tone for the brand. Here are three perspectives from Northlich experts on the exchange.

Todd Sebastian, Chief Client Officer: Using humor and sarcasm on social media can easily backfire, and the tone of this response seems off-brand. Wendy’s could have defended itself just as effectively in a manner more in line with their brand personality. If nothing else, it’s a good reminder to always consider a brand’s personality, and use it to inform brand voice (content and tone) across all target audience touch points.

Dan Whitmyer, VP, Strategy: The Wendy’s response wasn’t a hard enough slam to feel too off brand, but it would have been a tough call for its social media managers to make. Twitter is the most vitriol-filled of the social media platforms (or maybe it’s second behind YouTube comments), so it’s not surprising to see a little more snappiness from brands that participate on it. The Wendy’s personality is more reserved than, say, Burger King, but it doesn’t mean they have to be a wallflower when taking heat from Twitter trolls. Alternately, is there any way to be sure the Twitter troll wasn’t a plant to help Wendy’s further push their “never frozen” message? The troll deleted his account, after all.

Laura Arnold, Senior Account Manager: No matter the argument medium (in person or online), it’s hard to resist a good zinger. But the after-the-fact paranoia that you’ve done irreparable damage can be debilitating, so it’s rarely worth it. This certainly went well for Wendy’s — this time. But this could be a good opportunity for Wendy’s to revisit brand positioning: Is Wendy getting sassier as she grows up? Is it more advantageous to stick to the voice consumers have come to expect, or is an edge needed to be competitive? This instance raises some interesting points for Wendy’s to consider as they see how consumers have reacted.

Whatever they decide, the standards need to be communicated to the whole team, and communication should be consistent. This case was entertaining, but if they’ve got someone at the helm of social who goes rogue from brand messaging for a funny quip … next time, trying to be clever may not be so advantageous.