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04/01/2022

Wendy’s to open immersive virtual store – and more - with Meta

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Wendy’s and the company formerly known as Facebook are teaming up to create a metaverse environment.

The fast-food hamburger chain is opening the “Wendyverse” in Meta’s Horizon Worlds metaverse platform on Saturday, April 2, 2022. The Wendyverse will give customers opportunities to conduct augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), 3-D interactions with each other and with Wendy’s, with crossovers into the physical world.

In the first phase of the Wendyverse, customers with a Meta Quest 2 VR system can engage with virtual locations including:

  • Wendyverse Town Square Central: A Wendy's restaurant replicated in the virtual world. Customers can go behind the counter and meet up with friends.
  • Wendyverse Partnership Plaza: Customers can play virtual basketball with a Wendy’s sandwich in the “The Buck BiscuitDome.”

Customers without a Quest 2 VR system can utilize a viewer-only version of the Wendyverse by visiting Wendyverse.com starting April 2

While Facebook did not invent the metaverse concept, the company is making a major push to take a leading role in the still-emerging metaverse niche, even changing is corporate identity to Meta in October 2021 (although the name of the Facebook social platform will remain the same).

Other restaurant and bar brands have opened store locations in the metaverse, although they have previously been short-term promotional offerings. In October 2021, Chipotle Mexican Grill became the first restaurant brand to open a virtual location on the popular Roblox immersive video game platform as part of its Halloween 2021 promotion.

The quick-service retailer offered a limited-time virtual storefront and maze experience that included free burrito codes for use on digital orders, Chipotle-inspired costumes for virtual avatars, and a “Chipotle Boorito Maze” with exclusive virtual items that could be unlocked. 

And in February 2022, the Miller Lite brand of Miller Brewing Company opened the “Meta Lite Bar,” a brand-hosted virtual bar in the Decentraland metaverse platform, in a Super Bowl promotion.

However, Wendy’s is going beyond these metaverse foodservice efforts by opening an entire themed virtual world. So far, footwear/apparel brands such as Pacsun, Nike and Ralph Lauren have taken the lead in this type of metaverse development. It will be interesting to see if other retailers from different verticals follow Wendy’s.

"For years we've been meeting our fans in unexpected ways and places with our unique approach to social media, gaming and engagement," said Carl Loredo, chief marketing officer for The Wendy's Company. "We're excited to take this to the next level by launching the Wendyverse in Meta's Horizon Worlds and bringing a totally new dimension of access to our fans. Truly a first of its kind, the Wendyverse bridges the best of today with tomorrow to show up for our fans across every world - with a Frosty and fries in hand."

"The full vision of metaverse may be years away, but brands should start experimenting on what their metaverse presence will be now," said Vishal Shah, Meta VP of Metaverse. "There are experiences like Horizon Worlds which can give people a feeling of what it means to be together in an experience — it's a great place to start."

"Wendy's, Meta's Creative Shop and Horizon Worlds creators worked together to bring this experience to life," said Nicky Bell, Meta VP of Creative Shop. "Wendy's has always been an innovative leader in how they work with creators - building this world is a great example of how brands can show up in Horizon Worlds in intentional, meaningful ways with their communities."

Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Wendy's and its franchisees operate approximately 7,000 restaurants worldwide.