Social media case study: Wendy's challenges teen to get 18m retweets for free nuggets

Digital marketing industry case study library

A 16-year old teen from the US is currently on course for the most retweets of all time, after the fast-food chain Wendy's set him a huge social media challenge in exchange for free chicken nuggets for a year.


It began last week on April 6th, when Carter Wilkerson, from Reno, Nevada, started sent a simple joke tweet to Wendy's official Twitter account: “Yo @Wendys how many retweets for a year of free chicken nuggets?”

The answer was a shock. “18 million,” joked the company’s social media team.

However, Carter decided to take it seriously. “Consider it done,” he replied, before sharing the exchange with the comment: “HELP ME PLEASE. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS.”

At time of going to press, Carter has nearly 2.5 million retweets and is still gaining more as his story goes viral across the world. It is already the second biggest tweet of all time- all within a week.

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres has the popular tweet of all time with just 3.5 million retweets. Music star Harry Styles is now third with 2.4 million.

While some have suggested it could be one huge marketing ploy, no one has yet found any evidence the teenage nugget fan is a fake.

Carter's quest is certainly a boost for the restaurant chain, with many calculating that a year's supply of free nuggets is a small price to pay for the massive amounts of unpaid publicity that millions of retweets around the world can bring.

In an interview with USA Today, Carter said: “I’m one of those people who isn’t usually looking for attention. But since it started, it’s been pretty cool. In school, it’s fun because everyone knows about it.”

His father J Wilkerson added that he would like to see his son donate the nuggets to charity. “My wife and I think it’s great if it has a great cause other than eating chicken nuggets for a year,” he said. “It would be great to solve a life crisis. But also it’s nice to have some whimsical news.”

The teenager has released his own line of #NuggsForCarter T-shirt — with the money going to a good cause — and is working on recruiting celebrities to his mission.

Meanwhile, plenty of other brands have noticed the golden advertising opportunity and tried to jump on board.

The task is huge but not certainly not impossible. Twitter has 313 million monthly active users, and Carter will need to be retweeted by 5.8% of them. Carter has set up a website,, in which he explains that he is “making twitter history” in trying to achieve the “outrageous” tally.

Wendy’s declared itself “officially SHOOK” when he reached a million.

Wendy’s is known for its funny and irreverent social media presence. In January, it became involved in a sparring session with a Twitter user and won the argument — and a host of new fans — with its witty replies.

Read the full exchange in the comments section here:

If he achieves his goal, the teen says he’ll enjoy his nuggets with honey mustard sauce, barbecue or ketchup.
Copyright ©2000-2024 Digital Strategy Consulting Limited | All rights reserved | This material is for your personal use only | Using this site constitutes acceptance of our user agreement and privacy policy