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Kristin Tormey, Wendy’s global director of social media and digital engagement for the past seven years, works with the company’s agency teams to create a distinctive tone.

Kristin Tormey of Wendy’s creates a distinctive tone

Global director of social media and digital engagement shares how the company elevates the restaurant brand

Wendy’s has developed a distinct tone  a bit fun, a bit snarky – across its social-media platforms. And the Dublin, Ohio-based burger brand has found that tone works as platforms ebb and flow.

Kristin Tormey, Wendy’s global director of social media and digital engagement for the past seven years, works with the company’s agency teams to create that distinctive tone.

“That has allowed us to elevate the brand a little bit more into new platforms, new generations, and allowed us to break through with audiences across multiple generations, but really that 18-to-34 age range,” Tormey said in an interview.

In her seven years with the brand, the landscape has changed, she said.

“I think the biggest change is really just being able to stay close to the consumer and change alongside them,” she said. “That change within our consumer base just seems to be ever-present. One year they might love a written-word form of social and another they might tend to more video content. So being able to be really in lockstep with our consumer has allowed my role to evolve, but also my team's role as well in the way that we show up with our consumer in the day to day.”

Wendy’s remains active on Instagram, Facebook, Threads, X, TikTok, Snapchat, WhatsApp and on the consumer relationship management channels, she said, in addition to other platforms like gaming service Twitch.

“At Wendy’s, we’re really afforded the opportunity to be able to have that trust from our senior leadership that allows us to have that nimble direction from our consumers and being able to meet them in those moments,” Tormey said.

“The changing landscape is something we're super used to and just being able to navigate it in a way that allows our brand to continue to break through,” she said. “Sometimes those changes are great. Sometimes those changes allow us to reach our consumers in ways that we haven't been able to before. It might allow us to have more of a long-term relationship with them by being able to dig into those niche audiences in a way that maybe we weren't able to be as close to them previously.”

The somewhat irreverent tone goes back to the brand’s founding, Tormey said.

“It goes back all the way from 1969,” she said. “Even the ‘Where’s the Beef’ ads had this kind of snarky Clara Peller character saying, ‘Well, where’s the beef?’ What’s going on with our competitors? We have this fresh, never frozen beef at Wendy’s” 

That has allowed the brand to home in on its DNA, she said.

“We really look at each platform very much custom to the audience on each platform and how same way that maybe me and you wouldn't show up on an X platform or a TikTok, the exact same, or maybe Facebook,” she explained. “That's how Wendy shows up, very differently for each audience, but still kind of at the core, really Wendy.”

Knowing the consumer and what platforms they engage with the brand on is paramount, she added, and the digital experience has allowed the company to get more information on loyal consumers.

“We’re learning more about our consumer every single day in the digital space,” Tormey said. “So being able to not only look at just our digital touch points, but even our social touch points from a loyalty perspective, when you think of social, it might be more kind of like: How do we entertain? How do we show up?”

Deals can be aimed at the consumer in a meaningful way, she said. 

Tormey said she remains most proud of the team’s work. “It’s just being able to continue to move forward collectively with that team,” she said.

The management of influencers has become part of that team’s job, Tormey added.

“Wendy is truly the influencer for us,” she said. “And she has her friends in the marketplace the same way that we would have friends and the spaces that we live in our neighborhoods even and just in our lives. She has these influencers and the talent around her that we really view more as friendships than we do as sponsorship.”

Wendy’s expanded its April Roast Day, when it puts its snark to the test, to TikTok in 2023.

“That actually was a really interesting moment for us,” Tormey said. “We launched this Wendy character who was more a virtual Wendy character. She talks. She has facial expressions. She's engaging with the consumers on the platform in the same way a human would.”

The virtual Wendy was “such an awesome experience for us,” Tormey said, “because we were able to see consumers react in their own videos to Wendy.  We can have that one-to-one engagement. They’re able to have that kind of face -to-face engagement, which was pretty unique for us.”

Wendy’s has more than 7,000 restaurants globally.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on X/Twitter: @RonRuggless

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