Nugs not hugs: Wendy’s to give fans a GroupNug while social distancing

The brand is toasting deserving customers and handing out free chicken nuggets on Friday.

DUBLIN, OH: Wendy’s really wants to give its fans a group hug, but that’s not possible because of social distancing rules. So the brand is offering the next best thing: a “GroupNug,” or free chicken nuggets to each car that rolls into a Wendy’s drive-through on Friday.  

Wendy’s U.S. CMO Carl Loredo said the idea for the giveaway came from responses to a Twitter thread the chain posted on Monday to “shout out the special people in our lives that we think deserve some shine right now.”

The post received more than 1,500 comments, 12,200 likes and 650 retweets as of noon EST on Thursday. 

Wendy’s social media team is well-known for its trademark sassy banter, but the coronavirus pandemic has inspired a change of tone: This week, it is toasting instead of roasting fans by asking them to shout out in a Twitter thread people who have gone above and beyond. While every car gets free nuggets, Loredo said the mentions could spotlight a parent pulling double duty as a teacher, a grocery store clerk stocking shelves or a recent college grad’s amazing accomplishment. 

Ultimately, the brand wants to shine a light on its staffers dedicating themselves to a bigger cause, he said. Wendy’s has been sharing stories on its The Square Deal blog about what employees are doing to help healthcare workers. 

“Across the nation, our crew members have been living out one of our core values — Do the Right Thing  by creating social good in their communities wherever they can, whether that’s providing food to our first responder heroes or simply making someone’s day a little brighter by being open in the drive-thru,” he said, via email. 

Because Wendy’s fans interact with the brand “like a friend” would, Loredo said acknowledgment and a virtual toast “goes a long way.” 

“After receiving such an overwhelmingly positive amount of fan toasts, we decided everyone was in need of a little recognition, love and, frankly, a GroupNug right about now,” said Loredo. “We wanted to show our appreciation for everyone lifting each other up and doing their part.”

Wendy’s started the GroupNug conversation on Twitter and has been using its Instagram and Facebook accounts to share the offer. The chain has also created and shared a short video about GroupNug on social media. 

Wendy’s has also aired television spots this week, and its communications team has been pitching reporters while staffers have updated Wendy’s.com with messaging. App notifications are “on the ready,” said Loredo.  

Ketchum is supporting Wendy’s communications for the push.

UPDATE: This weekend, April 25 and 26, consumers can send a NugHug to a family member or friend: a free 10-piece chicken Nugget and free delivery when they order exclusively through Postmates, no purchase necessary.

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