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Keeping Fortnite Fresh

Keeping Fortnite Fresh | Wendy's | VMLY&R
Download Download JPG | 3530x2502px
Industry: Catering industry
Style: Minimalism
Why is this work relevant for Entertainment?

Gaming isn't a niche interest, it's a global cultural phenomenon. It’s entertainment for an entire generation. And Fortnite is leading gaming's rising popularity. Transcending from video game into cultural hub of interactive entertainment. Unsurprisingly, every brand wants in on the action, but few have done so. When Fortnite announced a new mode called Food Fight, Wendy’s (the American hamburger chain) found an organic way into the fray by playing Fortnite with our fans to promote core brand messaging. We blurred the line between advertising and entertainment, creating live interactive entertainment by playing the game to hundreds of thousands of viewers.


Younger consumers are revolutionizing the ways we produce, consume and think about entertainment. Through the online streaming platform Twitch, Fortnite has grown from a video game to the cultural hub for 12- to 24-year-olds and a new form of interactive entertainment altogether.

This audience is creating entertainment for and by itself It is adept at avoiding traditional advertising and highly skeptical of brands entering its cultural space. This poses a challenge to Wendy's and all brands in the quick service restaurant category, because the younger consumer is eating in the QSR category most often. How could we reach this important audience that doesn't want to be reached?

Our objective was to move beyond merely reaching the audience; we wanted to build relevance on their terms. We would meet our audience where they are and entertain them on their own turf.

Describe the creative idea

The video game Fortnite is the most important cultural hub to an audience of young consumers at the core of the quick service restaurant category. To reach this audience in a way distinct from our category competitors, we decided to go beyond reaching them as the brand advertiser they’d expect. So we entered the world of Fortnite as a player — as co-creator of culture, a gamer and an entertainer. Other brands have attempted to reach this audience by placing in-game logos or billboards, but we went beyond traditional advertisement.

We blurred the line between advertising and entertainment, playing Fortnite as Wendy’s and streaming on Twitch to immerse ourselves in this audience’s world as a player and a brand.

In short, our idea was to use the game Fortnite to promote Wendy’s brand messaging.

Describe the strategy

When Fortnite introduced a new game mode called Food Fight, we saw an organic way to insert Wendy’s into the game’s story. In this game mode, proponents of the Fortnite universe’s two fast food restaurants — Durr Burger and Pizza Pit — could represent Team Pizza or Team Burger in battle. We discovered that Durr Burger stored its virtual beef in freezers, a move directly at odds with the fresh, never frozen beef for which Wendy’s is famous.

In a game where the objective is to eliminate other players and be the last person standing, we entered the fray on the side of Team Pizza, making it our objective to eliminate all burger freezers from the game.

Describe the execution

On Nov. 29, 2018, we organically tweeted that we would be streaming Fortnite live on Twitch. We put down the keyboard, picked up a controller and began playing the game with our fans. In doing so, we took Wendy’s to a place where our audience was — and where no brand had gone before. We played as a character with red hair and pigtails, and for the next nine hours, we streamed as Wendy’s, hellbent on destroying any and all beef-laden freezers at Durr Burger locations. Other gamers noticed, and soon players and top gaming influencers like KingRichard joined our mission and began destroying freezers along with us. We weren’t just a brand, we were a brand co-creating a cultural moment as our audience watched and joined in.

Describe the outcome

Wendy’s time destroying in-game freezers amassed more than 1.5 million minutes watched. Our Twitch stream was viewed live more than a quarter of a million times. Viewers shared our stream, and mentions of Wendy’s increased by 119% across social platforms.

Wendy’s changed the way that the most popular video game is played and set the foundation for brands to authentically engage this audience on it (for better or worse). Even Twitch helped spread our mission by creating a highlight reel of Wendy’s destroying Fortnite freezers. And soon tens of thousands of gamers joined our mission and destroyed burger freezers in their own gameplay and documented it in user-generated content.

In co-creating culture with our audience, we changed it permanently. Game developers removed the in-game burger freezers from Fortnite, thus ridding this (virtual) world of frozen beef.
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Gold Entertainment
Excellence in Brand Integration for Games
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Gold Media
Use of Social Platforms
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Silver Entertainment
Live Broadcast / Live Streaming
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Bronze Media
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Shortlist Brand Experience & Activation
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