Karate Kid, Carlton help Wendy's solve problem of 'barbecue inaccessibility'

Wendy's started a celebrity-fueled 24-hour tweet-a-thon on Wednesday, focusing on fixing the fictional First World problem of "barbecue inaccessibility" plaguing US cities.

DUBLIN, OH: Wendy’s kicked off a 24-hour tweet-a-thon on Wednesday with celebrity partners lending a hand to raise awareness of "barbecue inaccessibility" as it introduced new pulled pork items to its menu.

For the faux cause campaign, Wendy’s is asking fans to use the hashtag #BBQ4merica. Actor Alfonso Ribeiro, best known for his role on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, began responding to customer tweets in real time starting at 11 am EST, acting out barbecue-related requests.

Ketchum, which is handling the celebrity component of the campaign, is working with Ribeiro throughout the day, said Frank Vamos, event marketing manager at Wendy’s. Other celebrities lending their names to the "cause" include actor and filmmaker Ralph Macchio and pro wrestling legend "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.

Throughout the day, Wendy’s is unlocking additional content as hourly goals are met, said Vamos. Consumers also have the chance to win #BBQ4merica memorabilia and cajole friends to participate in challenges by tweeting at them with the hashtag.

Wendy’s, Ketchum, and digital marketing firm VML collaborated on a three-month planning process for the initiative, said Vamos.

Ketchum is focusing on telling two stories on behalf of Wendy’s: one about the chain’s three new pulled pork sandwiches, and another describing the "barbecue deprivation crisis" taking place in many cities around the country.

In terms of media relations, Ketchum worked with Fast Company to unveil the menu items. Wendy’s brought members of the magazine’s editorial team to its headquarters to see how the items are made, explained Vamos. The "cause" effort is more focused on social media with support from VML, which handles digital and social outreach for the chain.

In addition to Wednesday’s Twitter marathon, Wendy’s released the first video in a series for the barbecue campaign late last month. Vamos said the video, created by VML, has garnered more than 4 million views.  

Once the tweet-a-thon is over, Vamos said the brand will continue to post content from the event and from its celebrity partners on social media to keep the buzz going.

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