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387: Wendy’s is a Challenger Brand with Spicy Nuggs and Spicier Posts – CMO, Carl Loredo

387: Spicy Nuggs and Spicier Posts: Being a Challenger Brand with Carl Loredo, Global CMO at The Wendy’s Company

Carl Loredo used to go to Wendy’s for dinner every Friday night with his mother when he was growing up. Fast forward to 2016, and he carried those memories and experiences into his work as Wendy’s Vice President of Brand Marketing, then US Chief Marketing Officer, and eventually into his current role as Global Chief Marketing Officer. Prior to coming to Wendy’s, Carl held marketing roles at Dell and PepsiCo before he went over to the agency side. Carl combines his passion for marketing with a love of storytelling in service of Wendy’s mission to be the most talked-about brand in the world.

In this episode, Alan and Carl discuss how his nontraditional career path serves him in his current role, the balance between global brand building and local adaptation, the evolution of social media strategy, and how Wendy’s is using new technology to drive transformation for digital and physical experiences. Wendy’s was founded with the intention of being the antithesis of what was available at the time, and it has maintained that energy to become a global challenger brand with the ingredients it uses and the messaging it puts out. You can see this in action through their use of platforms like Twitch, the Wendyverse, and Fortnight.

Wendy’s is known for its spicy social media presence, and they have been very intentional about keeping a finger on the pulse of culture, evolving their strategy with the platforms, and focusing on going deep in 1-on-1 conversations. With the shift to video content through TikTok, he and his team have had to balance Wendy being both a real person and a social media personality to become a humanized QSR brand. Carl tells us the brand stands out by knowing who they are, embracing their role as a category disruptor, and listening to their fans. He advises other executives who want to stand out to not copy Wendy’s but instead develop a deep understanding of their own brand and the role they play, then experiment with how to make that work for their consumers. The “challenger” thought process can also be seen in how Wendy’s is utilizing digital to get more Wendy’s to more people. By understanding people’s needs and leaning into new technologies, Wendy’s is giving its consumers and their employees a better, more memorable experience.

“To be on the forefront of culture, you also gotta enter into some uncharted spaces.”

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Balancing global branding and local adaptations
  • Carl’s advice to other brands that want to be disruptive
  • Wendy’s unique social media strategy and evolving with the platforms

Key Highlights: 

  • [01:45] Destin to work with Wendys
  • [04:00] Carl’s journey to Wendy’s
  • [07:20] Balancing global branding and local adaptations
  • [11:25] Evolving and adapting alongside social media
  • [17:20] Humanizing a QSR brand
  • [19:45] Spicy Nuggs
  • [22:24] Advice for other executives that want to be disruptive
  • [25:50] Using digital tools to get more Wendy’s to more people
  • [28:55] Carl’s nontraditional path to the CMO chair and how that impacts his leadership style
  • [32:30] Advice to his younger self: Make more strategic choices and be overt in those choices.
  • [35:00] Consumer, consumer, consumer.
  • [37:40] Trends and subcultures: The evolution of gaming 
  • [39:55] Driving 1 to 1 engagement 

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