On Tuesday, Wendy’s debuted Fruit Tea Temptation, a romantic short story on Wattpad centered around its summer beverages. Storytelling is a common theme in marketing today, but it’s not often a brand takes this concept quite so literally.
“Courtney knew what she was doing was wrong, but she couldn’t stop,” reads the first story about desire and Berry Cherry Fruit Tea. “She was entranced, acting on primal instinct, her body overtaken by desire. Courtney bit her lip. She wanted to take the Fruit Tea and run away, run from all the troubles of the world, leaving behind her old life to start anew.”
Wattpad is a community of writers and story enthusiasts that boasts 65 million MAU. A number of brands like Hulu and Netflix have launched story-themed campaigns on the platform, but Wendy’s decided to take a different approach—just create an account and start writing.
“Literally telling stories is such an area of opportunity,” Jimmy Bennett, senior director of media and social for Wendy’s told AListDaily. “This is clearly an area where Wattpad has resonated with an audience . . . what we love is that there are so many ways to tell stories. We submitted a mix tape a few months back [for example]. We’re just hungry to find different ways to continue this dialogue.”
The campaign was a way for Wendy’s team to have a bit of fun and engage with Wattpad users without a paid advertisement.
“We’re approaching it just as any other creator would,” said Bennett. “This is an entirely organic experience. We’ve worked with Wattpad just to get a better understanding of the community and how it works, but everything that we’re pushing out is based creatively on stories that we’re looking to tell and the fun that we’re looking to inject into this fan base.”
Wendy’s will publish another steamy beverage tale each week for six weeks. The stories are written by the same team that runs Wendy’s infamously sassy Twitter and other social personas, so users can expect a familiar voice. In fact, Bennett said that they are approaching Wattpad content as they would any other platform.
“We talk a little differently across different social platforms i.e. Twitter vs. Facebook but for the most part, we maintain that essence of what Wendy’s is all about—it’s a little bit sassy, it’s making sure we have fun, giving value to the conversation,” said Bennett. “We’re not in a position where we have to dramatically change how we’re talking [across platforms], it’s just a different conversation.”
It’s that conversation that drew Bennett and his team to Wattpad in the first place. Users post stories and other users respond.
“That dialogue happening around the [Wattpad] content mimics how we want to participate. We love that conversation and talking about things that we enjoy and fans enjoy. It’s where those conversations happen that we can get the most out of our experience.”
Since Wendy’s stories are being posted organically, the brand will have to measure success in ways others than traditional ROI. Luckily for Wendy’s, the brand is no stranger to earned media value. When Burger King invited Wendy’s to prom, for example, analysts estimated that both brands earned about $260,000 in earned media.
“We love stuff like that,” Bennett chuckled, remembering the famous “promposal.” “Our response was tailor-made for pick-up. It was a little unexpected but hey, if someone wants to have fun, we’ll jump in and have fun with them.”
Wendy’s has learned to “go with the flow” when it comes to earned media opportunities. Doing so earned the brand over $7 million dollars in earned media for the #NuggsForCarter incident alone.
“There’s definitely value in earned media,” said Bennett. “I think if you’re chasing it all the time, though, you’re probably not going to be able to get it. The true focus for us is staying fun, on point and relevant with our audience. We’ve been able to reap the benefits of that approach but I don’t know that we necessarily go out there expecting that things are going to be picked up in a [certain] way. We’re really happy when it does, but our true focus is just, again, making sure we’re having fun and engaging in this conversation with our consumers.”