Wendy’s has always prided itself on using only fresh beef to make its hamburgers. Yet 70 percent of consumers didn’t believe it, lumping Wendy’s in with fast food restaurants that rely on frozen beef. Spurred by a skeptical exchange on social media, Wendy’s saw a unique opportunity to dismantle the misperception. When a Twitter follower accused Wendy’s of lying about its “fresh, never frozen beef,” claim, the brand responded so cleverly that Ketchum saw an opportunity to turn “Twitter Beef” into headline news. Ready for further battle, when McDonald’s announced that it would start using fresh beef in Quarter Pounders in most restaurants by 2018, Wendy’s responded with an epic clapback pointing out that most of McDonald’s burgers would still contain frozen beef. Through influential earned media channels, we defended Wendy’s turf and hijacked our competitor’s news with our “fresh” message.
The two national moments combined generated 2.4 billion earned media impressions and delivered a 1650% increase in conversation about Wendy’s. Ninety-five percent of resulting earned media stories proclaimed Wendy’s fresh beef message as its #1 point of competitive differentiation.