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Wendy’s Challenges BBQ Fans To #CrackTheMasters In Interactive Video Ads For Limited-Time Pulled Pork Offerings
The fast food player and agency VML conceived of a unique way for viewers to interact with video creative.
They’re not likely to win over any Texans, who know that beef is the true foundation of good barbecue (disclosure: the author is based in the Lone Star State), but Wendy’s is taking a shot with a new integrated interactive effort promoting limited-time pulled pork menu items.
Kansas City-based VML, Wendy’s digital agency of record, wanted to go beyond the lean-back experience that video ads typically offer, and therefore conceived of a “choose your own adventure”-style creative called #CrackTheMasters.
“We did want to engage our audience in a more interactive way instead of just exposing them passively to video content,” Chris Corley, group creative director at VML, told me.
The resulting video, which is appearing in organic and paid placements on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, introduces viewers to three pitmasters with differing styles: Sauce Master, Smoke Master and Hip Master.
As viewers watch, they’re asked to choose a master to try to “crack.” After making their selection, they’re shuffled to another video featuring the chef they’ve chosen. They must then choose how to convince the master to share his secret recipe. The approaches users can choose from correspond with the three sauce options Wendy’s is offering with its pulled pork sandwich and pulled pork cheese fries: sweet, spicy or smoky.
Once an approach is chosen, a new video — featuring the pit master’s reaction — plays. Viewers are either told they’ve “cracked” the master, or they’re offered the opportunity to try again. With three pitmasters and three different approaches, there are a total of 13 videos to watch for the full experience.
Here’s how it plays out:
Viewers on Facebook, at least, seem to be enjoying the experience and sharing their results socially — encouraged by Wendy’s community manager.
At the time of this writing, the introductory video has gotten 319K views on YouTube; eight retweets and 16 favorites on Twitter (which doesn’t publicly show views); and 490K views, 3.5K likes and 182 shares on Facebook. The video auto-plays on all three sites. (Note that the program didn’t start at the same time on all three sites, so comparisons wouldn’t be fair.)
All of the watching occurs on the original platform upon which the user encountered the video. In other words, if you’re on Facebook, you stay on Facebook and watch all of the videos there. Same with YouTube and Twitter. Only the first video is exposed to non-players, though — the rest are dark postings.
“We want to always meet our audience where they are,” said Corley. “Driving them away from the site they are on may prohibit their engagement. Plus, it’s just the friendlier thing to do.”
The interactive user experience is most fully realized on YouTube, because it uses clickable video overlays that the other sites currently lack. Both Facebook and Twitter are forced to include links in the text area of the post, which the user must click to progress the story. And, on some of the integrations, the arrow pointing to the linked choices ends up pointing in the wrong direction.
The audience for the Wendy’s promotion is finding #CrackTheMasters in a variety of ways. The brand is running video ads targeted to barbecue-interested users and the Millennial demographic on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. At least one sponsored blog post touting both the menu items and the interactive video game is appearing on Southern Bite.
Additionally, television spots that launched simultaneously and feature the same actors drive viewers to the Wendy’s YouTube channel.
VML’s Corley explained the strategy like this:
The perfect state for us as advertisers is to have our television lead to a deeper digital experience because the second screen experience is so prevalent today. If you can engage them in a 30-second spot and have that lead them to digital, you’ve stolen time from the rest of the advertisers in that pod and given them something to do rather than watch passively. TV can be so much more than an awareness play. It can also lead to that deeper experience that can lead to retention and brand affinity.
In addition to the URL at the end of the TV spot that leads to the Wendy’s YouTube channel, Corley says the company has also invested in barbecue-related organic and paid search to better make the connection between the television and online experiences.