“Wendy’s is up to something yet again—don’t blink or you’ll miss it.”
So begins a press release from Wendy’s, alerting The Takeout that the fast food chain is launching a promotion this week called Cyber Search. Basically, it’s an online treasure hunt. Wendy’s is hiding gift card codes all over the internet (Spotify, Twitch, Wendys.com) and each day, cryptic clues will be tweeted from the chain’s official Twitter account; the gift cards will be awarded to whoever finds them first. From now until May 8, $5,000 in prizes will be awarded. Why? Because, according to Wendy’s, “Based on what consumers are now seeking, Wendy’s has chosen to expand what ‘entertainment’ looks like for our fans.” Okay, great! If that interests you, go forth and puzzle it out. But we’re not here to talk about Wendy’s Cyber Search promotion. We’re here to talk about Wendy herself, who underwent a serious makeover for the launch of this campaign:
Excuse me, but what in the hell is this new Wendy? Where’s the old familiar line drawing of a happy kid who wants to sell me burgers? The Wendy featured above is older and wiser, neither of which I need my fast food mascots to be. She appears coldly analytical, lit by the glow of a screen in a dark room like Tom Cruise in Minority Report or a stock photo of a computer hacker. Will the new digitally rendered Wendy become the chain’s permanent mascot? Will her icy video-game-protagonist-who’s-seen-some-shit stare forever replace the cheerful, nugget-encouraging grin of the little girl we’ve known for 50 years? Just look at this smile and tell us you’re not prepared to buy a Double Stack combo meal, America:
It’s likely that Cyber Wendy will only stick around as long as the Cyber Search promotion does, or else the Wendy’s Twitter account would have made a whole big thing out of her redesign. Even so, it’s unsettling to be given this glimpse of the haunted, urgent coder that Wendy might grow up to be. Maybe she’s a representation of the 2020 zeitgeist. If so, then what might be next? Little Debbie smizing?