Wendy’s Ropes Realtime Tweets Into ‘Real’ Campaign

As part of Wendy’s “You Know When It’s Real” campaign that launched October 12, the fast food chain recently extended its multimedia effort with an experience built on Twitter’s infrastructure.

Wendy’s agency Kaplan Thaler built an automated tool at Wendysrealtime.com that works with Twitter’s API to retrieve tweets containing a variety of keywords. Some of the tweets relate to bacon, the menu item Wendy’s is promoting in its new campaign. But they also cover other topics. Yesterday’s stream included Twitter activity from Yankees fans celebrating the team’s American League championship win, for instance.

“Sometimes the tweets don’t pertain to Wendy’s, but we’re trying to reflect on what our targets are interested in, and if it was only Wendy’s it would be less interesting,” said Myles Kleeger, managing director at the Kaplan Thaler Group.

The tweets float around the page and stop when a site visitor clicks on them for a full reading. “We pull in a certain number of tweets every minute… The most recent ones appear, then they fade into the distance and change, so you’ll see new ones every time you look at the page,” Kleeger said.

Interspersed among the tweets are YouTube videos created by consumers, some for a contest Wendy’s is running.

Wendy’s is promoting the new site with an online campaign that includes Flash banners and home page takeovers, partnerships with YouTube, MySpace, AOL and MSN, and tags in TV spots. Kleeger declined to provide visitor traffic or engagement numbers, saying it’s too early.

Wendy’s use of Twitter in its new campaign follows a similar execution from E.P. Carillo. The cigar maker’s site at epcarillo.com displays tweets superimposed on maps, courtesy of the Google Maps API, to show where they’re coming from.

“They wanted to create a virtual cigar community by tapping into Twitter and laying it over a Google map to visualize what people are saying about cigars around the world,” said Tyler DeAngelo, interactive creative director at DiVito/Verdi, the company’s agency. The site was produced by ClickFire Media.

Nate Elliott, a Forrester Research analyst, said such applications of Twitter are in line with online marketing efforts to get users to contribute original content to their campaigns. In the past, most of these efforts involved elaborate video contests, “but now they’re not asking consumers for new content, they’re using public tweets in their campaigns. Consumers don’t have to take action, because they’re pulling what’s already going on,” Elliott said.

“The upside is there’s a lot of content they can work with, but the downside is the content may have nothing to do with the products, so it may not reinforce the brand,” he said. “It’s a gamble they have to take.”

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