Wendy’s winning brand makeover

WPP’s Mark Read (left), Kurt Kane of Wendy’s and Debbi Vandeven of VMLY&R

WPP’s Mark Read (left), Kurt Kane of Wendy’s and Debbi Vandeven of VMLY&R

Wendy’s has undergone a transformation — from old-fashioned legacy brand to sassy, outspoken cultural sensation and darling of the internet, and consequently was named the world’s most innovative company in social media for 2019 by Fast Company. The original challenger brand in the fast-food market has benefited hugely from WPP’s outstanding creativity.

According to Mark Read, CEO of WPP, what the brand is doing is exactly what WPP had already decided was the way to go: “It’s the kind of work we know we need to be doing,” he said. “And our partnership with a client that in the past invented the drive-thru ad that continues to innovate and refresh the brand is at the heart of the creative transformation.”

As Kurt Kane, US president and CCO of Wendy’s said, the campaign was not an accident: “We were heading towards our 50th year, and we were well aware of how easily brands can get old and tired, so starting three years ago we were discussing how we could reinvigorate Wendy’s while remaining anchored as a challenger brand that does not believe that our rivals make food in the right way.”

VMLY&R’s global CCO Debbi Vandeven explains how this was done: “The first thing we changed was to move from tactical, bolted-on work to really being part of today’s culture, and Twitter has played a crucial role in that conversion. But underlying that is the fact that if you want to be a respected part of the conversation, you have to absolutely have everything that’s going on.”

Harriet Palmer