Wendy’s and the Twitter War

I’ve been keeping my eyes and ears open for an exciting new public relations case to look at.

At first, I thought I’d go with one of the many government related cases presented this week to go along with my past few posts.  But honestly, I’m sure there’s going to be a ton of those this year.

And then, something totally new came across my alerts at around noon today that made me excited to get back to my desk to write this post.

Last night, the “kids” and I randomly picked a movie from Netflix called The Chef in which a chef gets fired from a popular restaurant, and the life-altering twitter war that he has with a popular food critic and blogger.  The flick has an all-star cast and is pretty cute, but I was fixated about the references to Twitter and other social media throughout the entire film.

And then today, I was alerted to what’s been going on with Wendy’s on Twitter.  Seems, Wendy’s has had their own twitter-war this week.  Coincidence? I think not!  This story  begged me to write about it.

Anyway, it seems that Wendy’s,  tweeted this on Dec. 30.


Wendy’s via Twitter

The PR/marketing team for Wendy’s were trying to be creative, cute and funny.  Well, I guess they didn’t anticipate that some might actually challenge the claim.

That is until Twitter user Thuggy-D tweeted back at Wendy’s:


That’s a screen shot of the actual throw-down that the Wendy’s team got into with Thuggy-D which ultimately led to Thuggy-D deactivating his account.

Oh, if only the Wendy’s marketing and PR team had stopped with bullying a Twitter user off social media. That would have been enough to write this blog post.

But, nooooooooo! Wendy’s, probably high on what they perceived to be social media victory, went and answered a question posed to them on Twitter by another user.

“Got any memes?”  To which Wendy’s responded with:




Screen shot courtesy of Fusion.net

Without realizing that the above meme is a cartoon character called Pepe the frog that has been claimed by racist members of the alt-right, the Wendy’s team used it.

Eventually, after Twitter users were rapidly criticizing Wendy’s for the meme, the post was deleted by Wendy’s.

But a Twitter user by the name of Chase Purdy had my favorite response:


That’s what I want to know, too, Chase.  Why on earth would they choose this meme in the first place.  What does it have to do with their brand?


Thuggy-D is back on Twitter and giving Wendy’s some love today:


Based upon this case, I have some questions for you.

  1. Is it ever okay for a PR/marketing manager to engage with social media users in this way?
  2. Do you see Wendy’s as the hero or bully in the first part of this case?
  3. Is it okay for a company to use memes in this way, or should they stick to original content messages?
  4. What are your recommendations for moving forward after an unintentional social media gaffe?

Ready, set . . . discuss! Leave a comment, and let’s talk about this a bit.

Thanks for following and sharing.


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