December 15, 2009

Tail Wagging Dog

Wendy's has been having lots of problems since its founder, Dave Thomas, died several years ago. They've been going through ad agencies faster than Tiger Woods goes through talcum powder.

Recently they had another agency review. If my count is right, that makes about fifty in four years.

It seems these days an agency can't win a new account without presenting a seriously demented social media scheme. (Like we're always saying here at Ad Contrarian global headquarters, there's no bigger sucker than a gullible marketer convinced he's missing a trend.)

If you haven't seen the alarmingly stupid Wendy's Realtime site, you're in for a treat. How anyone can spend more than 30 seconds on this monstrosity is beyond belief. Why anyone would is even more mind-boggling.

What it seems to do is capture tweets and other digital inanities and post them in real time. Until you've experienced it you can't really appreciate how remarkably dumb it is.

In a recent article in a trade pub, the managing director of the agency had this to say about the site,
"...we're trying to reflect on what our targets are interested in, and if it was only Wendy's it would be less interesting"
Less interesting? Sorry, not possible.

Based on the minute I spent on the site before my brains fell out, their target seems frighteningly interested in bacon. Now, it is possible that, heaven forbid, Wendy's is fudging by screening for words that they -- not their target -- are interested in.

In which case the theme of the site -- You Know When It's Real -- is  stunningly cynical.

According to the article, this guy also
...declined to provide visitor traffic or engagement numbers, saying it's too early.
It's not too early for me*. This thing is an all-too-typical dimwitted social media whack-a-thon. I can only imagine how the agency is spinning this expensive nonsense to the client.

The sad thing is, the agency probably won the account on the "strength" of this brilliant digital idea.

The marketing world is now fully committed to the tail wagging the dog.

*Full-disclosure - Wendy's chief competitor, McDonald's, is a client of mine.

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