Carl Loredo | The Innovator 25 North America 2020

Carl Loredo 

US Chief Marketing Officer

The Wendy’s Company  
Dublin, OH

“Not only were we fluent in Fortnite, we knew how gaming platforms like Twitch worked — and didn’t work — when branded content got involved. Wendy’s had already established an irreverent social media voice, and that appealed to gamer instincts.”

As CMO, Carl Loredo was integral in Wendy's game-changing Keeping Fortnite Fresh campaign. Most of us know the campaign by now: the marketing team created a digital Wendy's avatar that fights frozen beef. The effort caught fire and won a series of industry awards, including Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions and  Best in Show award at the Innovation SABRE Awards — North America in 2020. After joining Wendy's in 2016, Loredo became CMO last year. 

Where is the most urgent need for innovation within the PR/communications industry? 

Given the current state of the pandemic and many social distancing guidelines varying by state, it’s important to recognize its impact on consumer mobility and how brands can fit into their lives. For Wendy’s that means making sure our fans know we are open via drive-thru, carry-out and delivery as well as providing fans with a temporary escape through interactions on our social channels. We are constantly working with our delivery partners to offer our fans compelling deals to get them the menu items they crave in a safe way without compromising the high-quality food they’ve come to know, love and expect from Wendy’s.

How would you describe the communications/PR industry's level of innovation compared to other marketing disciplines?
About the same as other marketing disciplines

How have the events of 2020 impacted the the industry's innovation?
More innovative

Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation?
Creative ideas

What is the ideal working scenario for innovation?
It always comes down to the people. Providing colleagues with the resources and support they need to bring their true selves to work is one of my top priorities. I pride myself on being focused on serving my colleagues at Wendy’s and truly get my energy from the teams I work with.

Has 2020 changed the way you define/approach innovation? How?
This year has undoubtedly been a challenge for everyone and has required all of us to adapt and evolve to meet the current needs of our customers and fans. Wendy’s mantra ‘We Got You’ is all about having our customers’ backs by listening to what our customers want, and we’ve continued to do that in meaningful, relevant ways even with all the challenges we’ve faced this year.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen this year?
I admire the way Yeti has transformed itself from selling products for the great outdoors (coolers, mugs, etc.) to being fully embraced as a lifestyle brand by its customers. You can tell customers identify their lifestyles strongly with the Yeti brand and proudly wear a Yeti hat or t-shirt to represent a way of life in a sense.

What is the most important lesson you've learned this year?
The importance of continuing to listen to our customers and the topics that are most important to them. We continue to see that we always win when we show up for our fans, and we remain committed to doing so. Whether it's through treating every interaction with our fans like we would a friend, in-restaurant, at the drive-thru or on social media, or continuing to deliver new menu items we know our fans will love, like the new Pretzel Bacon Pub Cheeseburger, we will continue to do everything The Wendy’s Way.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider innovative.
When we ventured into the gaming space, specifically Fortnite, we knew we had to do it in a way that was unique to who we are and what we stand for. Wendy’s started with a major advantage: our team knew how to game. Not only were we fluent in Fortnite, we knew how gaming platforms like Twitch worked — and didn’t work — when branded content got involved. Wendy’s had already established an irreverent social media voice, and that appealed to gamer instincts.

Opportunity arrived when Fortnite announced that its latest Limited Time Mode (LTM) game would be titled Food Fight. Gamers would join the battle between Durr Burger and Pizza Pit. The objective was to eliminate the other players, capture the mascot, and emerge as the last player standing. In the elaborate world Fortnite created for Food Fight, we noticed that the burger franchise kept its precious meat in a series of freezers. That left us both offended and inspired. So, we hatched a plan. Wendy’s would become a player in Fortnite. We just wouldn’t play by the rules. Instead of taking out other combatants, we would unleash our fury on the freezers. When our time was up, tens of thousands of gamers continued our mission and shared their own freezer destruction as user content. Even Twitch pitched in, promoting a reel of Wendy’s highlights. Eventually, Fortnite even had the developer remove every freezer from the game. We literally changed the game.

Any habit/activity that you have added to your life during Covid-19 that you hope to carry with you when the pandemic subsides? 
We’ve all experienced more than ever how valuable taking some time away from work is. Whether it is taking twenty minutes to eat lunch away from our desks, or taking a quick walk in between meeting, it is vital to our productivity and mental health. I hope to carry some of this back when we are all in the office again and encourage my colleagues to do the same. A quick break can go a long way.

How can the PR industry make real progress in diversity, inclusion and equity? What is the biggest roadblock standing in the way?
The industry can begin to make real progress in diversity, inclusion and equity by creating actionable goals to guide hiring decisions, employee training and other important decisions being made. Change doesn’t happen overnight or even in a year’s span but creating equitable goals goes a long way in helping companies keep themselves honest. It’s also important to reflect on how companies can show commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity to not only their employees, but their customers as well.

For example, this year we were able to leverage our social presence to show our commitment to listening, learning, having thoughtful conversations, and actively supporting the Black community. We’ve begun this journey by amplifying Black voices on our widely viewed social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, and partnering with organizations committed to eliminating racism and advocating for justice, equity and equality for all. We will continue to use our platforms to move forward ongoing discussions in the pursuit of social justice and to take action to better our communities, while also committing $500,000.

What are you thinking about most these days?
I continue to strive daily to make Wendy’s marketing the most talked about in the world. Not because we outspent everyone, but because we out-thought everyone. Everyday I think about how we can better engage our customers and fans, how we can reach them in the ever-changing channels they’re visiting and how we can deliver something unique that no other competitor is offering.