Wendy's, Rhapsody Partner In Digital Song Giveaway

Wendy's restaurants plans to give away 100 million free digital songs through a partnership with Real Networks' music site Rhapsody.

Consumers who buy a combo meal between Nov. 21 and Dec. 30 get an access code to download one free song from a list of Rhapsody's 4.5 million. The codes are printed on the beverage cups.

Saatchi & Saatchi designed the television and online spots. The TV ads, which begin airing Monday, feature the character that puts on a red wig, which Wendy's spokesperson Bob Bertini says represents "enlightenment."

The character, part of Wendy's "That's Right" campaign that Saatchi & Saatchi launched in late May, will contrast with a singing Wendy's hamburger, Bertini explains. "It's a parody of an Air Supply song," he says. "Don't fill yourself up with just anything. Choose a Wendy's burger instead."

The music promotion fits the move toward music, sports and gaming, allowing Wendy's to cozy-up to its 18- to 34-year-old target consumers. Earlier this year, Wendy's gave consumers a chance to win Nintendo Wii consoles and games through the purchase of Frosty floats.



Paul Verna, senior analyst at eMarketer, called the promotion "significant" based on the number of music downloads the No.3 burger restaurant chain will give away. "It's a big play for both Wendy's and Rhapsody," he says. "I don't know the financial ins and outs of the deal, but I assume Wendy's paid a bulk rate through an agreement with Rhapsody and the music labels."

The free-song promotion appears ideal. Not so for those who depend on their iPod or iPhone for music. The digital songs downloaded from Rhapsody are not compatible with Apple's devices. The incompatibility issue has been challenging for marketers looking to tap digital music to market products and services.

Circumventing the issue, Wendy's added an MP3 giveaway. Consumers are eligible to enter the "Combo Up to Download" sweepstakes for a chance to win a 50-song download bundle from Rhapsody or one of 100 SanDisk Sansa e280R Rhapsody portable MP3 players.

Wendy's download giveaway site also features integrated playback of songs from many top artists available through Rhapsody, as well as a programmed Wendy's Radio stream.

In October, Wendy's reported that third-quarter earnings, ended Sept. 30, fell to $29.9 million, or 34 cents per share, compared with $69.2, or 58 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Rhapsody's promotion for Wendy's restaurant chain highlights the latest in a series of marketing efforts that began earlier this year with MTV's Video Music Awards and VH1's Hip Hop Honors.

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