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How Wendy’s New Zealand used weather data to quench its sales goals


By Awards Analyst | writer

December 6, 2022 | 7 min read

Wendy’s New Zealand won Most Effective Contextual Ad Targeting Campaign in the Retail, Ecommerce and Consumer Products or Service at The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising APAC 2022 for its custom-built weather-triggered media solution. Here, we unpack what went into the campaign’s success.

Wendy's ad

Wendy's used real-time weather data to deploy contextual TikTok and Instagram ads to reach gen Zers / Wendy's New Zealand

Wendy's New Zealand developed an innovative approach to selling its Summer Sparklers soft drink to gen Zers through contextually-targeted media informed by real-time weather data.

The brief

In the summer of 2021, Wendy’s New Zealand set out to launch its first drinks-only campaign to promote its Summer Sparklers drink to gen Z audiences.

It had a major challenge ahead of it, as New Zealand’s soft drinks category is extremely crowded and competitive, with players like Coca-Cola going head-to-head with quick-service restaurants (QSR) like Wendy’s. At the same time, other QSR competitors held strong market positions, with McDonald’s outspending Wendy’s by nearly 10 times to promote its Frozen Coke.

Wendy’s approached its agency Together with a task: help it drive sales of Summer Sparklers from 2,700 to 3,400 per week during a set campaign period. It represented a stretch target that the fast food chain had never achieved. Together had to find an innovative solution to achieving the sales goal – while working with a budget at a fraction of the size of competitors’ budgets.

The idea

Using Wendy’s analytics tools, the team assessed sales and mobile data, which revealed that weather was a key driver in purchasing. In essence: hot weather made consumers crave a cold drink. But beyond this obvious insight, the data suggested other weather-related connections to sales. Variables including wind speed, cloud cover, humidity and UV levels were linked to Wendy’s sales patterns.

The team set out on a mission to cut through the noise and connect with target audiences during key weather moments in places where the competition wasn’t playing.

With a goal of reaching gen Z audiences in particular, Wendy’s and Together turned to TikTok, since the platform has over 400,000 gen Z users in New Zealand and is home to viral food and beverage trends. It sought to activate data-driven weather-related moments across TikTok to identify unique contexts free of bigger competitors. It also wanted to reach gen Z users on Instagram.

Of course, TikTok is notoriously difficult for targeting. As such, Together built a custom contextual solution. It teamed with Open Weather Map, through which it could access both macro- and granular-level weather data. It created a custom API to interface between real-time data from Open Weather Map and the team’s data warehouse. Then, the team analyzed data within a 10km radius of 23 Wendy’s locations in New Zealand, mapping ideal weather attributes and aggregating the data across sets.

The team tapped contextual advertising partner Next, who created a custom code designed to be used to serve ads on TikTok and Instagram. With a serverless cloud function, Next developed an automatic switch to turn ads on or off based on highly-customized data triggers. To ensure Wendy’s was able to own specific weather moments, the switch was designed to assess weather patterns each hour.

Finally, Wendy’s wanted to ensure its efforts were effective. It ran contextually-targeted media alongside a control test line in order to validate its hypothesis. During a testing phase, the team was able to adjust specific triggers that didn’t perform as expected.

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The results

The contextual Summer Sparkler campaign quenched Wendy’s thirst for higher sales.

Year-over-year, the fast food chain achieved an 85% increase in Sparklers sales. The brand surpassed its campaign goals by 47%, with a return on investment coming in at $2.18 for every dollar spent. Plus, the campaign incentivized repeat purchases long after the end of the campaign and inspired customers to buy other Wendy’s products, too.

The control ad group enabled Wendy’s to quantify the true effectiveness of its contextual strategy. Findings were impressive: the media deployed on TikTok and Instagram secured 83% higher video completion and click-through rate was 9% higher for the contextual ads.

“For our media campaign for Summer Sparklers, the agency blew us away with their insights and technical expertise. Having our ads run on TikTok and Instagram only when the weather was just right, in alignment with our moment’s strategy, made our budget work incredibly hard. The contextual campaign results were astounding, and we saw an uplift not only for Sparklers but across the entire Wendy’s menu as a result,” said Danielle Lendich, CEO of Wendy’s Hamburgers New Zealand, in a statement.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Marketing 2022. You can see all the winners here. The Drum Awards for Marketing are currently open for entry. Find out how you can enter now.

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