COM0015 : Applied Social Media in Business (Mar/Apr 2017) – Blog Post 2

I believe Wendy’s is a company that is doing an excellent job with its social media strategy. Wendy’s can be found on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. It has always produced cute videos and used the innocent looking, red-headed girl’s image in all of its promotions.

Recently, Wendy’s has adopted a new tactic, what is being called “roasting”, for people who comment on its Twitter page. It is giving a new take on innocence through funny, sometimes hilarious and unexpected responses to tweets.  In one of them, someone tweeted an algebra question to Wendy’s, saying he would not go eat at a competitor’s if he got help with his homework. Wendy’s took the time to solve the algebra problem and post it.  Other responses are one liners (My friend wants to go to McDonald’s, what should I do? @Wendys response: Find new friends.)

In the process, it is attacking McDonald’s and Burger King in a fun way. This great tongue-in-cheek marketing strategy — (which makes me think of the 2010 Old Spice Man videos) — is grabbing the attention of young people, a hard to sell to audience, and creating moments through sass.

By upping the tone of their messages from simply cute, to not quite rude, they have gained popularity; in doing so, Wendy’s is making interacting with people a less robotic experience as this new corporate “personality” shines through, sounding and reacting like a real person would.

The ‘bad’ example I will use is Pepsi. Although present on the usual social media platforms, Pepsi tends to reinvent old campaigns under new names (bringing back the Pepsi Challenge adapted for social media, as an example). However, my feelings were reinforced following its April 4th video fiasco, in which it totally missed the mark by misjudging the reaction of its target audience: millennials (those born in 1980 and up). Pepsi lost a lot of respect by using this social media campaign which purported to “show a moment when we decide to let go, choose to act, follow our passion and nothing holds us back.”

The video shows Kendall Jenner, acting as a model in a photo shoot, being distracted by and joining a group of young black protestors. At the end of the video, she faces a surly police officer and offers him a can of Pepsi, which he takes and then smiles, while the protestors cheer. Reactions to the video were mostly along the theme of “you just need to hand a police officer a can of Pepsi to end racism…”

Pepsi should have been more aware of what this age group believed in and what they considered important, and known that by trivializing a demonstration for social justice, as well as using a can as opposed to a bottle which is better for the environment, they would lose, rather than gain the target market they were aiming for.

Pepsi has withdrawn the video and apologized. I believe they will need to rethink their social media strategy.


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