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What the Hell Happened: Wendy’s New Mixtape and Marketing in the Age of Memes

Although a relatively new concept, the fast-food mixtape has already caught the hearts and minds of thousands of netizens. One of the earlier pioneers in this trend, Hamburger Helper, released a 13-minute EP for April Fool’s Day in 2016. While that may sound funny, the cumulative 14.6 million views the EP has garnered on SoundCloud is no joke.

A few weeks ago, fast-food giant Wendy's became the latest restaurant to ascend to rap meme-dom with their debut EP, “We Beefin?” Incorporating elements of trap and jazz, the EP mainly consists of blatant self-promotion and shots at fast food competitors. With lines like, “Why yo’ ice cream machine always broke” and “fries, burger, nuggets and a drink come with that,” Wendy's truly pulls no punches.

Racking up almost 180,000 views on YouTube in a couple of weeks, Wendy's rap debut is faring better than most. Considering the relative success of this album, this raises the question: Why would over 100 thousand people go out of their way to listen to what is essentially an advertisement? The secret sauce is Wendy's long reputation as a meme marketer.

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At 2.49 million followers, the Wendy's Twitter account has attained great internet acclaim for its witty retorts and devastating McDonald’s disses. According to a Reddit Ask Me Anything, a team of marketers work over 40 hours a week to come up with the best one-liners they can. Wendy's Twitter attracted international attention when a user’s tweet became the most retweeted of all time after the restaurant promised a year of nuggets if the tweet reached 18 million retweets. Even though the Twitter user only got to 3.4 million, Wendy's still gave him a year of nuggets.

In an age when consumers are more saturated with advertisements than ever, Wendy's form of meme marketing gives the company a decisive edge. According to a psychological phenomenon called the mere-exposure effect, repeated interaction with a concept increases said concept’s favorability. With more internet hijinx and news spotlights, the chances of people actually eating at Wendy's increase. Though not great as an actual music album, Wendy's fast-food mixtape is absolutely doing its job.

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—Staff writer Raj Karan S. Gambhir can be reached at raj.gambhir@thecrimson.com.

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