The social media team for Wendy’s has upset some of Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters by tweeting and deleting a certain popular meme. The fast food chain’s Twitter account has become something of a viral sensation, roaring to new heights after a certain exchange with a Twitter user who wanted to argue over refrigerated beef.
This increased attention, though, may have directly contributed to an incident that led to a call by Trump supporters to boycott Wendy’s. The account was already known for lighthearted fun, jokes, and memes, but after the series of tweets that went viral, users insulted the chain’s burgers in hopes of also getting a response, and other users pleaded with Wendy’s to post more memes.
Wendy’s complied, sharing more memes and jokes. In one case, though, one of these memes had more meaning than the social media manager realized. After the Wendy’s Twitter account shared a meme of Pepe the Frog, doctored to have pigtails and freckles like the Wendy’s logo, it was quickly deleted, and an explanation issued.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 4, 2017
@kylegriffin1 Our community manager was unaware of the recent evolution of the Pepe meme's meaning and this tweet was promptly deleted.— Wendy's (@Wendys) January 4, 2017
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, in her capacity as a director for T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, penned a rebuke to the chain, warning against association with the meme and those who appropriated it as a racially charged image.
“The same neo-Nazis who declared Wendy’s their new official hamburger have desecrated synagogues with swastikas, engaged in vicious online attacks on vulnerable populations, and harassed Jewish journalists in their homes.”
The Anti-Defamation League describes Pepe as a cartoon character that was created in 2005, with no association with white supremacy. The image evolved into a meme that was applied to a number of issues. However, at some point, Pepe was fully adopted by the alt-right, white supremacists, and antisemites. Though Pepe’s creator is exerting an effort to separate the character from these attitudes, the image is strongly connected to them for many internet users at this point.
The Donald Trump supporters on the dedicated section of Reddit known as /r/The_Donald have adopted Pepe as a sort of mascot of their own, particularly since Trump himself tweeted a meme directly associating himself with Pepe in October.
Initially, these followers expressed joy and pride that Wendy’s was tweeting an image associated with Trump.
The tweet was posted many times in the sub, with Trump supporters referring to it as Wendy’s “revealing their power level” and commenters suggesting a purchase at the chain in the near future to show support and appreciation. After the tweet was deleted, the new suggestion arose to “show them some love” since, posters suggested, Wendy’s had been forced to remove the tweet under pressure.
Trump supporters began tweeting their “love” to the Wendy’s account. This included warning the chain that people who are offended by a meme associated with President-elect Donald Trump should get over it, and tweeting additional memes associating Wendy’s with Pepe and/or Donald Trump.
However, it seems not all of these were well-received. In fact, the Wendy’s account didn’t choose to give hefty publicity to any of them through retweets, and some users are alleging that tweeting Donald Trump memes to the Wendy’s account resulted in being blocked.
However, the above meme has been tweeted to the Wendy’s account so many times it is no doubt beginning to look spammy — it was sent as a reply by at least five users on one post alone. Granted, that was a post in which Wendy’s expressed approval of a meme centering around Bernie Sanders (and actually an event in which Sanders used a Trump tweet to demonstrate an apparent backtracking of stance.)
Still, if Wendy’s is blocking users for Donald Trump and Pepe memes, it may be less about content than frequency.
After all that — what many read as an endorsement, a withdrawal, and explanation that this was not an endorsement and rebuff of attempts to receive further endorsement, some Trump fans are angry and calling for a boycott.
Some of Donald Trump’s supporters may be reading this as a lack of support for the President-elect, but other social media users are seeing either a refusal to be connected to white supremacy or a choice to be politically neutral. As far as the presidency, the only endorsement Wendy’s has made was a playful one for the Baconator — not for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
[Featured Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]