On Friday, fast food chain Wendy's Co. (WEN) released a novelty hip-hop mixtape aimed at its competitors. Titled “We Beefin?” the mixtape features a female MC dissing competing fast-food giants McDonald's Corp. (MCD) and Restaurant Brands International Inc.'s (QSR) Burger King. The mixtape is comprised of five songs, including "Rest in Grease," wherein the rapper calls out McDonald's for its broken ice cream machines and slow drive-thrus. (See also: Major Trends Disrupting the Food Industry.)
The mixtape was released on Spotify, the leading on-demand music streaming platform slated for its highly anticipated initial public offering (IPO) this year, as well as on Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iTunes and Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOG) Google Play. Over the weekend, Wendy's new songs peaked at No. 3 on the hip-hop charts on iTunes.
"Fresh burgers to fresh beats," is part of the Atlanta-based company's push to use technology and innovation to combat rising competition, as changing consumer preferences threaten the fast-food industry and spur a larger transition toward healthier menu options.
Doubling Down on Social Media, Tech
"It's really about telling our food story, that we're fresh, never frozen, and we called out a few of the competitors along the way, but we want to really make sure that people understand that we are fresh and we're a little bit different," said Wendy's Chief Executive Officer Todd Penegor in an interview with Jim Cramer on CNBC. Penegor took the helm in 2016, and has since doubled down on the food industry player's use of social media and technology to connect to "the next generation of consumer."
Wendy's lists 2.5 million followers on Twitter Inc. (TWTR), a platform where its CEO says the company "really gets to talk about our differences and how we stand apart from the competition."
In the broader fast food space, chains McDonald's and Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) have raced to offer next-gen technology to improve the ordering and dining experience. Mobile ordering, back-room automation and digital kiosks have risen to the top of the agenda in order to cut down wait times, as well as hedge against industry oversupply and growing labor costs.
"You can do things with industrial engineers to figure out, how do you optimize your labor guide along the way to really mitigate some of those inflationary impacts?" said Penegor on CNBC. "Those are important things to help differentiate, because what we know is you can't pass along to the consumer the wage inflation because the gap between food at home and food away from home just gets too wide. So you've got to find efficiencies to offset those pressures." (See also: General Mills Reacts to Inflation in Food Industry.)