The hashtag #WendysIsOverParty started trending on Twitter this week after James Bodenstedt, one of the fast food company’s most prominent franchisees, was revealed to have donated over $400,000 to President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.
Reigning Champs of Social Media
Wendy’s is known for its amusing social media presence and humorous engagement across platforms. The hamburger chain’s Twitter account has over 3.7 million followers, and it’s common for users who tweet at Wendy’s to receive an entertaining response in the company’s signature snarky voice.
Witty and fluent in the internet language of Millennials and Gen-Z, Wendy’s has established an online presence that eschews some of the over-edited or try-hard pitfalls that fellow brands fall into. Last year, Wendy’s even hosted a National Roast Day across social media platforms, inviting participants to get personally insulted by the jokesters behind the Wendy’s corporate account.
Their strategy has, until now, kept Wendy’s on top of the social media game.
On May 18th, a Business Insider article profiled James Bodenstedt, the CEO of MUY!, a company which establishes franchises for Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. The article claimed that Bodenstedt had given $440,000 to Trump’s reelection campaign, a contribution that got him invited to a roundtable with the President himself.
The discussion of the roundtable, which will feature other big players in the fast food industry, likely regards how the Administration plans to continue supporting chain restaurants during the coronavirus recovery. The CEO of Landry’s, which owns Bubba Gump and Joe’s Crab Shack, was also invited to the discussion after placing a $35,000 donation to a Trump political action committee.
The Internet Bites Back
While Bodenstedt is involved in three major fast food chains, Wendy’s is facing the bulk of the backlash online, likely due to its massive presence on social media. The viral spread of #WendysIsOverParty raises an interesting consideration when it comes to managing a social media brand: Can a super-sized internet presence lead to a super-sized downfall?
The main Wendy’s account still has an enormous following, but it is now being “ratioed,” a term that describes tweets that receive more comments than likes or retweets. Being ratioed is usually an indication that many users are viewing a brand’s content, but the general reaction is a negative one.
As the nation faces historic health, economic, and social tumult, a PR disaster of this scale could wreak havoc on Wendy’s online brand. To come out alive, Wendy’s will have to put its creative social media bona fides to full use.