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Behind the Work

Why Wendy’s Built a Phone to Promote an App

McCann Canada’s CCO Josh Stein on building in secrets and a sense of humour to the limited run of phones for Wendy’s Canadian superfans

Why Wendy’s Built a Phone to Promote an App


Recently McCann Canada collaborated with tech companies Scale3c and DhruvWorks to produce a limited run of ‘Wendy’s Phones’ for the fast-foot chain eatery featuring a functioning ‘Wendy’ voice assistant and a singular mysterious contact. The campaign was created to encourage downloads of Wendy’s ordering app but became so much more thanks to a Twitter campaign that allowed just 20 users to win the special edition phone.

CCO Josh Stein tells all about developing a phone for a campaign and writing jokes for a virtual assistant.



It needed to be bigger than just an app


“The brief from Wendy’s was to increase downloads of the Wendy’s ordering app. There are so many apps out there so we knew if we really wanted to help, we needed to think about something bigger. It’s not something you get to do every day, so thinking about how to make this phone great was a blast." 



There are long-term plans and Easter eggs for the lucky fans with the phones


“Just about everything we wanted to do with this phone, we did. And as much as I’d love to talk about all the other stuff, I don’t want to spoil our future plans. We’re really excited to be able to add to the experience of owning the phone and create a connection with some of our biggest fans.”

“The phone comes with one contact, Wendy… The rest is for the winners to find out about first.” 



The ‘Wendy’ virtual assistant is a fully-fledged AI assistant - with a sense of humour


“There’s a lot [of quips] we love. If you ask Wendy to tell you a joke she quips back: “If you want jokes, go to the clown”. I thought that was a good chirp! We all know what Alexa sounds like, and we know Siri. We needed Wendy to be as real as those two - and she is.”



Developing technology is almost never smooth-sailing


“The trickiest parts of projects like this are always the tech and innovation but thanks to our incredibly collaborative partners we found a way to work around pretty much any of the issues we stumbled upon. We worked with a really great developer in Scale3c and Gail Dhruv at DhruvWorks to develop and create the voice assistant and they made it seem easy even though we know these things rarely are.”



Fans online have welcomed the campaign


“The internet isn’t all bad! For the most part, everyone has embraced the Wendy’s phone as the fun, not-taking-ourselves-too-seriously, cool thing that it is.”



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