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Wendy’s 'Rolls' Out Supremely Nerdy Marketing


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Do you have what it takes to help Queen Wendy protect her fresh burgers from the insidious Ice Jester and his frozen patty-slinging minions? 

That’s the challenge from Wendy’s latest marketing campaign, Feast of Legends, which comes in the form of a 97-page tabletop role-playing game. Players can play as one of several Orders, from the Order of the Baconater to the Order of the Baked Potato to fight off those that would destroy the kingdom of Freshtopia. 

Why did Wendy’s go to the effort to create what amounts to 97 pages of complex marketing? 

Overall, the hobby-games market reached $1.5 billion in sales last year, and tabletop role playing was one of the fastest growers in 2018. So, what was once a hobby that came with wedgies and a dash of satanic panic has become a gaming and content phenomenon. Today, it’s a hobby and content juggernaut of “epic” proportions. One of the most popular outlets, Critical Role, has more than 350,000 paid subscribers on Twitch who tune in en mass for episodes that feature voice actors playing Dungeons & Dragons for several hours—really, people watch people make silly voices and roll dice for four to five hours. And recently the party of voice actors-turned-celebrity nerds took in more than $11 million on Kickstarter to turn their live-action game into a cartoon. 

As for Wendy’s, it’s tapped into that ecosystem with a sponsored “one-shot” or single episode game of Feast of Legends that already has more than 8 million views for a more than three-hour video of the gameplay. Not to mention the video, the game and the reactions have been bouncing around social media like nerdy wildfire. 

The project came about in the Wendy’s social media office as one of the branding employees and their friends wrote it as a “labor of love” and kept at it, securing the sponsored game video and releasing the 97-page rules book and game content for free. 

“The masterminds at Wendy’s took a few months to dream up the chain’s first-ever, tabletop RPG: Feast of Legends. The ultimate gamer, Breaker of Freezers and Queen of Fresh, Never Frozen Beef – aka Wendy’s – knows you can’t rush greatness, and the chain was determined to bring their fans the best of the best,” said a Wendy’s representative. 

The ROI, or activations? Who knows if this will sell any burgers. But it’s some really unique branding that hits a growing and underserved segment of consumers, and that sort of representation matters, and it builds on a long record of fandom marketing. If you go to Wendy’s Twitter page, there’s a good chance there will be some anime star or video game character there to greet you. This is just the next step into geek culture. 

Wendy’s has established itself amongst the best in the gaming community over the years, earning fans’ respect and admiration for its gameplay on Fortnite, Overwatch and more,” said a Wendy’s representative. “But with the growing popularity of tabletop RPGs, Wendy’s wanted to take things a step further by introducing Feast of Legends, proving they have their fans’ backs once again and reminding them of Wendy’s never-ending fight against frozen beef – no matter the gaming universe.”

So kudos to Wendy’s for letting one of their nerdy employees run with this project and getting a little closer to all those who live at the intersection of QSR food and gaming, in whatever form it takes. 

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
 
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
 
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
 
Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
 
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
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