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Wendy’s exec: Mobile video mastery translates to in-store traffic spikes

May 12, 2016

Wendy's also saw success with Canvas ads on Facebook

Wendy’s also saw success with Canvas ads on Facebook

NEW YORK – A Wendy’s executive at the MMA Mobile Marketing Leadership Forum revealed that the fast-food chain’s initiatives within mobile video pay off – especially among millennial consumers – when it comes to driving in-store traffic, lending support to video ads’ rise.

During the session, “The Future of Marketing: Perfecting the Art & Science of Delighting Customers and Boosting Brand Awareness,” the executive discussed mobile’s complementary nature to quick service restaurant chains, which rely heavily on impulse purchases. He also praised mobile video as a top sales-driving channel for Wendy’s, with one of the brand’s video ads having seen 75 percent of impressions served on mobile devices.

“The transition to video was actually a pretty easy one,” said Brandon Rhoten, vice president of advertising, media and digital at The Wendy’s Company. “We just had to get comfortable with video in different formats.”

The shift to mobile
Mobile is one of Wendy’s most lucrative communication mediums, as consumers tend to make purchasing decisions quickly with the help of their omnipresent devices.

“We are not a very considered purchase,” Mr. Rhoten said. “You don’t think about Wendy’s for weeks before you buy a Frosty.”

This presents a massive opportunity for Wendy’s to inspire last-minute sales through interactive, memorable ads on social media, many of which involve video in some way.

The brand originally experimented with putting its made-for-television commercials on digital channels, but quickly discovered that this tactic did not resonate well with consumers. It then realized that content must be tailored to each specific channel.

Wendy’s was one of the first marketers to roll out Facebook’s new Canvas ads, which offer social media users a more immersive and exploratory experience.

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Wendy’s Canvas ad

In the ad, the fast-food chain sought to illustrate what makes its cheeseburgers better than anyone else’s, and let users break down the cheeseburger by its ingredients.

Individuals spent more than one minute on average playing with what was essentially a banner ad, per Mr. Rhoten. Additionally, many of those people later ventured out to their local Wendy’s restaurant.

Wendy’s also launched a video storytelling series, called Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger Love Songs, on social media. The humorous campaign reached 86 million consumers in the United States and saw 75 percent of impressions served on mobile devices.

Another way the fast-food chain leverages mobile to fuel in-store sales is by taking seasonality into consideration. For instance, salad is usually a top seller in the spring and summer seasons, when consumers think about going on vacation and visiting the beach.

“Understanding your seasonality is a big deal,” Mr. Rhoten said. “What we’re finding is that we can talk in layers and speak to individual audiences based on what we find they care about.”

Garnishing the right content
Consumers’ focus on snackable and entertaining mobile content has transformed the way in which brands communicate with target audiences. Wendy’s, for instance, no longer tries to keep up with competitors when it comes to advertising tactics, and instead prefers to meet consumers with the type of content they demand.

“Now, we actually have to have conversations about segments,” Mr. Rhoten said.

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Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger Love Songs went viral on social media

Furthermore, mobile users must feel as though they are receiving branded content that has been tailored specifically to their consumption preferences. For example, the path to purchase for someone buying a salad is very different than one for someone ordering a Baconator burger.

Ultimately, mobile has opened up a slew of new advertising avenues that brands can leverage to reach younger consumers and millennials – a highly sought-after demographic.

“People say millennials have short attention spans,” Mr. Rhoten said. “I think millennials actually have so much available to them that they don’t have to tolerate garbage content.

“The shift here is, you have to know what someone’s going to want to watch or consume and product that content. Great TV’s been out there for 50 years, but great Snapchat, great Facebook? That’s all new.”

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Alex Samuely is staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach her at

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