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How Wendy’s Leveraged Its Twitter March Madness Campaigns to Drive Its Brand Awareness

Each year during March Madness, millions of college basketball fans get swept up in a fever pitch of statistical analysis, favorites, upsets, and, of course, bracket picks. But today, chatter about brackets busted is no longer limited to the office pool. In 2016, over 17 million Tweets were sent about Selection Sunday and the games, showing that fans are following the March Madness action on Twitter.

And the American international fast-food restaurant chain Wendy’s has played a major role in amplifying the influence of March Madness as its official partner, thereby, boosting its own brand awareness in the process. Let’s take a look at how Wendy’s drove its brand awareness through three March Madness campaigns on Twitter.

1. 2017

With round-the-clock excitement and fans tracking every make or miss in real time, Wendy’s created the #WendysBracket on Twitter to immerse fans in the NCAA tournament experience and dive into conversations with a passionate audience.

Their Objective

Wendy’s wanted to own the conversation around March Madness to reach fans and drive brand awareness in an innovative way.

Solution & Approach

Building a bracket may be hard, but with Wendy’s chatbot, the experience became much easier. With support from IC Group, Wendy’s created a chatbot and used the Twitter Business Messaging platform to let fans build their brackets right in Direct Messages on Twitter.

Fans were able to share their brackets with others on Twitter, driving even more engagement during the tournament. Wendy’s also launched a Promoted Tweets campaign that targeted basketball fans to join the fun and fill out their own brackets.

Wendy’s used Twitter’s robust targeting options to find sports fans who would be interested in the #WendysBracket. The campaign used Promoted Tweets that linked directly to the bracket builder in Direct Messages.

Wendy’s chatbot then used Direct Messages to greet fans and guide them through a series of fun questions that automatically generated brackets. Fans could also pick their game-by-game favorites, all through Direct Messages.

The Result

Wendy’s 2017 March Madness Twitter campaign performed quite well as its chatbot sent over 2 million messages during the two-week period. On average, people spent five minutes building a bracket and continued engagement with the #WendysBracket content throughout the tournament, with 30% of fans returning to the experience multiple times.

Fans who shared Tweets about their brackets helped create 8 million organic and earned impressions, in addition to paid impressions.

2. 2019

The 2019 March Madness tournament created the perfect opportunity for Wendy’s to connect its fan-friendly brand ethos with Twitter’s culture-defining audience.

Their Objective

By bonding directly with its fans on Twitter around a major sporting event, Wendy’s wanted to reinforce its image as a brand that’s just as excited about cultural events as the people who love its food.

Solution & Approach

As an official corporate partner of March Madness, Wendy’s engaged in a full-court press on Twitter and used a wide range of Twitter ad formats to deliver branded messages including polls, promotions, sponsored Moments, video highlights, and live streams.

Wendy’s reached fans through its Pick ’Em promotion, which was built on the insight that users gravitate toward gamifying this event — and that Wendy’s can provide them with a way to stay involved in the fun all tournament long, even after their brackets have busted. The polls let people on Twitter predict the winners of each major round of the tournament from the Sweet 16 through the Final Four. Some 615,000 people voted in the Pick ’Em polls, showing just how much Twitter’s audience leaned in during March Madness, and how effective the tournament was for raising brand awareness.

To connect fans with additional content surrounding the tournament, Wendy’s partnered with Bleacher Report to offer real-time game highlights and sponsored Moments showing videos with the best reactions from teams and fans from each round of the tournament. Wendy’s also provided fans with insider access through live watch parties streamed on Twitter in partnership with Turner Sports, featuring prominent athletes and announcers discussing their unique perspectives in real time. And, as in 2018, Wendy’s sponsored the Twitter Live broadcast of the championship game, as well as numerous highlight clips, utilizing pre-roll video featuring creative for Made to Crave and Biggie Bags to slam dunk launch messaging to Twitter’s leaned-in audience.

The Result

Wendy’s Twitter-first strategy proved incredibly effective, resulting in more than 2 million Tweet engagements and nearly 140 million impressions, along with 15.5 million pre-roll video views at a view rate of 50 percent.

Alongside impressive content engagement, Wendy’s March Madness campaign generated a 12 percent lift in foot traffic among new and/or lapsed customers through the Biggie Bag value messaging alone, with a double-digit increase in visit intent from the overall campaign.

3. 2022

In 2021, we saw a 45% decrease in Tweets about March Madness brackets from Selection Sunday to the second round due to busted brackets. Wendy’s forwarded a 360 campaign approach using a full suite of Twitter ad tools to keep up with the madness of March.

Their Objective

As the Official Breakfast of the tournament, Wendy’s needed to keep up with the hype and make up for the lackluster tournament in the preceding year.

Solution & Approach

Wendy's made it easy for sports fans to opt-in to get notified when they could make their picks for every round of both the Men’s and Women’s Tournaments with Branded Notifications.

Each round of March Madness used a Twitter Moment with Multi-Destination Carousels to make the pick’ems easy to discover. Then Wendy’s socialized the game by making it easy for people to select their picks by Tweeting and sharing the game for others to get involved. After each round, Wendy’s Tweeted participants their winnings (or losings) with a customized response and offer based on their picks. Both correct and incorrect picks got offers, but they differed in quality and varied by round.

Wendy’s also partnered with Turner Sports to host four Twitter Spaces throughout the tournament with Creators like Rex Chapman to talk through the brackets and analyze their selection, giving fans consolation for their busted brackets and insight for their next picks.

The Result

Wendy’s 2022 March Madness campaign flipped the traditional bracket on its head and scored major results with a 1,028% lift in Tweet volume and a 499% lift in authors volume. The activation also drove mass engagement and lower funnel results with hundreds of in-app offer claims and higher than anticipated first time app transactors.

Bottom Line

Twitter is an ideal platform for letting your customers know what your brand stands for. With its various features like Reminder Cards and Promoted Tweets and Videos, you can drive user engagement with your brand, boosting awareness and conversions at the same time. All you need is a solid strategy in place and a plan to execute it the way you want to, and Samsung definitely got that right!


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