Wendy’s announced today that it will sell Quebec-favorite “poutine” at its 368 restaurants in Canada, but the most interesting additions to the chain’s marketing strategy have been its belated embrace of social media and its side track into merchandise sales.
Poutine—traditionally brown gravy and cheese curds over french fries—joins the new Signature Sides collection rather than the Mac & Cheese added in the U.S. Canadian diners also get Chili Cheese Fries but not baked sweet potatoes. Poutine is $3.99 (Canadian) alone or $2.20 as a side with combo purchase. Wendy’s follows the lead of Burger King, which offers regular poutine plus Angry Poutine and Poutine with Bacon in Canada.
Wendy’s isn’t stopping at expanding its sides menu, however. It is backing the rollout with a social media campaign to make poutine the national dish of Canada. Diners are invited to sign a “poutition” in favor of poutine at www.Poutition.ca or on Wendy’s Facebook page. TV and radio advertising begins April 30.
And there’s more. Poutine fans can buy apparel and other merchandise promoting the “national dish” effort at CafePress.ca. This ranges from $25 t-shirts to $13 coffee mugs an $4.50 bumper stickers and magnets. Wendy’s made a similar foray into the apparel market last fall with the introduction of the Dave’s Hot ‘n Juicy Cheeseburgers introduction. A TV spot featuring a young man finding a “Where’s the beef?” t-shirt in a thrift store blossomed into a Facebook design competition for new “Here’s the beef” shirts, which were sold.
The side business is serious enough to warrant a dedicated “Wendy’s Threads” sub-site on its Facebook page.