Not being McDonald's has its advantages. In recent years, Wendy's has embraced its second-place burger chain status by adapting a nimble marketing—especially its envy-inducing approach to Twitter. Now, Wendy's has once again proved its proclivity for the unexpected: The fast food brand has released a free-to-download tabletop role-playing game titled "Feast of Legends."
If you're already an RPG fan, this style of cult-favorite fantasy game needs no introduction. Otherwise, just think Dungeons & Dragons. Sure, to those of a certain age, D&D might carry some baggage, but Wendy's points out that RPGs have seen a stigma-free resurgence. "Gaming culture is on the rise, becoming more mainstream in recent years, making it the cool thing to do within a coveted community of individuals," the brand explains.
That said, Wendy's also understands that an overlap of role-playing and spicy nuggs fans isn't inevitable, so they also offer a "New to This?" section on the Feast of Legends website. "Using the book you can create a character and choose every aspect of who they are," the explanation states. "The players will interact with the story that one person, your Game Master, leads you through."
That story is billed as "The Fight Against Frozen Beef." "The nation of Freshtovia has been the lone beacon of hope in the land of Beef's Keep for decades," the description begins. "However, the Ice Jester and his rogues gallery of frozen fiends threaten Queen Wendy's reign of prosperity. Prepare your heroes for adventure." Sure. Why not?
Certainly, entering the tabletop RPG space is a noteworthy advertising choice for such a major company. Plus, it targets a group of people known for their devotion to their hobby. But Wendy's also offers another not-at-all-subtle explanation for how they hope the game can help boost sales: "In Feast of Legends your character will gain special advantages if you're eating the right foods in real life," the explanation continues. "Make sure you swing by our place before you get to the game and grab your faves…. Beef's Keep is a wide open world waiting for you to explore it. Make the world your own, expand your adventure, and most importantly, buy Wendy's. Wait, we meant to say have fun. Also, buy Wendy's."
Hey, it's a strategy that works in online RPGs: Give the game away for free and try to make your money back with in-game purchases. Why couldn't a similar concept work in the physical world?
Feast of Legends was launched yesterday at New York Comic Con in a partnership with Fandom and Critical Role. You can download the surprisingly well-illustrated and on-genre rulebook at FeastOfLegends.com.