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In the fast-food battle zone, the lines have long been drawn: McDonald’s runs the French fry business, and everyone fights over hamburger share. But Wendy’s new ad campaign is a proverbial shot across the bow, because it highlights a new type of French fries.

The new $25 million campaign promises “natural”: natural Russet Burbank potatoes, naturally cut, with natural sea salt. But beyond the promise of better taste and higher quality, the advertising is aiming to fulfill another challenging goal.

Specifically, the television spot shows a line of people waiting to try the new fries. The first sampler refuses to share them, running away with the fries down a beach in Los Angeles. This “sharing” notion aligns with the social media elements of the campaign, for which Wendy’s created a “Fry for All” application that allows users to post a box of fries to their Facebook page and share it with friends. The Wendy’s YouTube channel will show advertisements for the fries that also will provide the background for the company’s Twitter page. This seamless integration should help the promotion resonate with consumers.

It is a lot for a fry to shoulder. But Wendy’s wants to change the entire conversation when it comes to fast food, and its marketing communications seem like they might succeed in doing so.

Discussion Questions:

1. Will this campaign be successful?

Tanzina Vega, “Wendy’s Rethinks Fries in Nod to More Natural Foods,” The New York Times, November 21, 2010.