Wendy’s Insulted McDonald’s Breakfast. McDonald’s Response Was Priceless

McDonald's could have gotten caught in a war of words with Wendy's. What it did instead was much smarter.

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Wendy’s officially reentered the breakfast wars on Monday when it launched a new breakfast menu across the U.S.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Wendy’s has made a foray into breakfast. The company attempted to roll out a breakfast menu back in 2012 but fell flat on its face. By mid-2013, most locations had pulled the menu.

But this time, Wendy’s has gone on the offensive. 

For example, just a month before the launch, Wendy’s posted an ad on its Twitter feed featuring the former McDonald’s corporate chef Mike Haracz. Wearing a white chef’s coat that seems to feature the famous competitor’s golden arches, along with the famous “I’m lovin’ it” tag line on the sleeve, Haracz gives the impression that he’s trying the new Wendy’s Breakfast Baconator for the first time.

“That’s incredible,” he says, after taking a bite.

Then, on February 28, Wendy’s tweeted a picture of a tombstone etched with the words “RIP Egg McMuffin,” along with the dates 1972-2020 and the caption “Here lies mediocrity.”

So, how did McDonald’s respond?

Not directly. But the current king of fast food breakfast did deliver an excellent lesson in business strategy and emotional intelligence.

Just after the tombstone tweet by Wendy’s, McDonald’s declared Monday, March 2, the day of the Wendy’s breakfast launch, “National Egg McMuffin Day.” Additionally, McDonald’s invited customers to enjoy a “free, freshly prepared Egg McMuffin at participating McDonald’s nationwide,” by simply downloading the McDonald’s mobile app and making an order.


Consider for a moment what makes this move from McDonald’s so brilliant. 

McDonald’s could have gotten caught up in a war of words with Wendy’s. But this would likely benefit Wendy’s more than anyone, as it would have served as free publicity for its breakfast launch. 

“Honestly, the louder the fight gets, the better it is for our breakfast business,” Kurt Kane, the U.S. president and chief concept officer of Wendy’s, told Ad Age back in October.

Instead, with its offer for a free Egg McMuffin, McDonald’s simultaneously:

  • Focuses attention on its business, rather than a competitor’s
  • Detracts from Wendy’s big launch by taking away potential customers
  • Builds loyalty while gathering consumer insights through its mobile app

Interestingly, Wendy’s seems to have recognized the genius in the McDonald’s strategy.

Soon after the announcement by McDonald’s, Wendy’s announced it was also offering a free sandwich on March 2: the new Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit. And, like McDonald’s, Wendy’s is requiring customers to download and order using the company’s mobile app.

Hey, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

So, remember, when competitors try to bait you into a war of words or try to get you to take things personally, don’t. Doing so will only distract.

Instead, show some emotional intelligence by using their attack as an opportunity to refocus on what’s important to you. That’s making emotions work for you, instead of against you.

Enjoy this post? Check out my book, EQ Applied, which uses fascinating research and compelling stories to illustrate what emotional intelligence looks like in everyday life.

A version of this article originally appeared on Inc.com.

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