Wendy’s takes aim at Ronald McDonald in return to UK high street

The brand, which last year overtook Burger King as the US's second biggest burger chain, left the UK in 2001.

Wendy's: campaign promotes brand's freshly made food
Wendy's: campaign promotes brand's freshly made food

American burger chain Wendy’s is celebrating its return to the UK with a campaign by VMLY&R London.

Created to coincide with the opening today (2 June) of Wendy’s restaurant in Reading, “All beef no bull” hails the brand’s food as “freshly made” and “fresh off the grill”.

The campaign launched today across out of home and digital, while Wendy’s UK Twitter account went live last week. Media is handled by Spark Foundry.

The brand’s Twitter account has already poked fun at McDonald’s beloved mascot, Ronald McDonald, by claiming that “Britain just got a new favourite redhead.”

— Wendy's UK (@wendysuk) May 26, 2021

Wendy’s is now America’s second-favourite fast food chain after overtaking Burger King last year. Burger King has also been noted for taunting McDonald's in its ad campaigns a number of times over recent years.

Wendy’s US Twitter is known for causing chaos on social media, including taking part in National Roast Day on TikTok and creating a fake account called @DefNotWendys that endeavoured to “leak” some news about a new menu item.

Perhaps the brand's greatest moment of tapping into mass culture came in 2017, when a 16-year-old from Reno created the then most retweeted tweet of all time by requesting a year’s worth of Wendy’s chicken nuggets.

“We are incredibly excited to be bringing Wendy’s to the UK and have built a specific local platform to speak with our new customers in a refreshingly honest, challenging and cheeky way,” Tony Barr, senior international marketing director APMEA and UK at Wendy’s, said.

“The partnership between Wendy’s and VMLY&R, which began in the US, has produced multiple Cannes Lions and creative awards, as well as having been pivotal to business growth.”

Barr continued: “We are so excited to now work with the VMLY&R London team to bring the brand to life on this side of the Atlantic.”

Wendy’s first launched in the UK in the 1980s but closed all of its UK stores in 2001 due to a lack of expansion opportunities propelled by property costs and other overheads.

The brand now plans to open restaurants in Stratford and Oxford, and will include menu items tailored to the British market, such as more vegetarian options.

Laurent Simon, chief creative officer at VMLY&R, said: “Working on a dream brand with dream clients has been our reality for a few months now and we’re pumped to see ‘All beef no bull’ finally out there.

“We can’t wait to continue challenging the UK category norms and keep bringing more sass to the streets.”

Other US fast-food chains to have returned to the UK in the past decade, after abandoning previous attempts to crack the market, include Taco Bell and Dunkin' (previously Dunkin' Donuts).

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