Wendy’s, Chicken Nuggets, and Viral Twitter Fame



I’ve mentioned before that fast food chain Wendy’s is one of the few corporate brands truly killing it on Twitter.

Wendy’s Twitter feed is irreverent, funny, and – most of all – responsive, to both its customers and its competitors.

In other words, the brand *gets* that social media is just that — “social.”

Enter Carter Wilkinson.

Carter Wilkinson


A 16 year-old from Nevada, Carter gained viral fame last week after he asked Wendy’s, via Twitter, how many re-tweets it would take to earn him a free year’s worth of chicken nuggets.

The answer?

“18 million.”

Not one to shirk from a challenge, Carter responded simply, “Consider it done.”

Game On

While 18 million remains an impossible goal, that simple exchange has since gone viral.

Less than two weeks later it’s in the running to become the most re-tweeted post of all time.

As of this morning (April 17th), it’s garnered 3.0 million re-tweets.

That’s dangerously close to de-throning the reigning re-tweet champion, Ellen’s celebrity-filled 2014 Oscar selfie, which amassed 3.3 million re-tweets:


Media Attention

Carter’s viral success has led to coverage in such media outlets as The Associated Press, USA Today, Seventeen, The Daily Mail, New York Daily News, PR Week, and others.

Further, such brands as Microsoft, LinkedIn, GoDaddy, Apple, and even beleaguered United Airlines have weighed in, rooting for Carter and his nuggets.

Twitter Growth

As of April 7, Carter Wilkinson’s Twitter account had a healthy 2,938 followers.

Today, his account has more than 65,000 followers, and has achieved the elusive Twitter “verified” status reserved for reporters and celebrities.


Carter’s also got a new website, https://nuggsforcarter.com/, to help explain the challenge and handle media requests.


For its part, Wendy’s too has received massive publicity. It’s working with PR agency Ketchum and digital partner VML to help manage the positive press it has received from the #Nuggsforcarter campaign.

The Takeaway

As many analysts have pointed out, this viral Twitter exchange is difficult – if not impossible, to plan for in advance.

The best viral stories – the ones that capture the public’s imagination — happen naturally, organically.

But at the same time many brands would have dropped the ball on this one.

It was only because Wendy’s social media manager(s) were already highly attuned to their audience that allowed this charming customer service story to happen.

By listening via Twitter and responding appropriately, Wendy’s put itself in the right place to garner enormous consumer good will when an opportunity like Carter Wilkinson’s tweet crossed its path.

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