The Wendy’s Co. dove into new territory Thursday with a full day of live-streamed, improvised engagement featuring YouTube stars Rhett & Link.
The comedy team of Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal helped the Dublin, Ohio-based quick-service chain promote its summer beverages on a microsite, where users could ask questions in a virtual chat, ideally to spark an entertaining bit of improvisation.
The resulting short videos were to be given to chat participants to share on their own social media sites with the hashtag #sipmeup.
In addition, the duo took to Periscope for a behind-the-scenes perspective and more stunts. It was Wendy’s first official broadcast on Periscope, a relatively new social media platform that only a few major chains have attempted to use.
Taco Bell has also warmed to Periscope, and earlier this week used the site to announce that its quest for a taco emoji had been approved.
Rhett & Link, however, were a bit less focused with their Periscope efforts.
In the morning, they played fruit ball, which involves hitting oranges, mangoes and pineapples with a baseball bat. Later in the day, they dressed like cowboys and asked followers to supply the dialog for a sketch.
However, the comments rarely moved beyond, “OMG,” or, “you have beautiful eyes.”
By midmorning Pacific time, the chat queue for the microsite was posted as “overflowed,” prompting more Tweets of frustration than short videos.
Tweets from fans indicated that the queue repeatedly crashed, although some spent hours waiting to speak in real time via webcam to Rhett & Link. It’s not clear how many got their personalized video.
In response, Rhett & Link posted a video as an apology, with the hope of “peanut buttering this thing.”
(Video courtesy of Wendy’s)
In between chats, the two staged various stunts that were live streamed on Periscope to give a behind-the-scenes perspective.
Wendy’s ended the day with more than 2,700 followers on Periscope, and more than 65,000 “hearts,” which are similar to Facebook “likes.”
“While we can’t tell how many unique users there are associated with these, it’s exciting to see how engaged our fans are with the content,” said Brandon Rhoten, Wendy’s vice president, digital engagement.
One goal was to tap into Rhett & Link’s popularity. The duo has 3.6 million YouTube subscribers, 650,000 Facebook fans and more than 418,000 Twitter followers. They currently host the Internet talk show “Good Mythical Morning.”
The pair has partnered with Wendy’s before. The chain sponsored a music video with the comedians’ song “Just Being Honest” in connection with Wendy’s Honest Tropical Green Tea.
For the final Periscope feed of the day — which took a few attempts to broadcast — McLaughlin and Neal stood on a roof and attempted to pour Wendy’s Fruitea Chillers into cups below.
Thrilling? Not so much.
But the live stream broke new ground, and it will be interesting to see how Wendy’s and other chains wrangle such direct engagement efforts as familiarity grows.
Improvisation is a challenge under the best of circumstances, and the added layer of technical glitches and the overwhelming response from viewers appeared to hinder Rhett & Link’s noble effort.
Watch a video from their past that better shows what they can do: