So brands have figured out that if you're funny online, you'll earn free fluff news stories (also known as ads). Even some people who spend most of their time tweeting anti-capitalist screeds will pause to appreciate Wendy's making fun of McDonald's. But weirdly, the Wendy's Twitter account doesn't have much to say about Wendy's dodging American labor laws by getting their tomatoes from Mexican farms that systematically employ child labor, wage theft, beatings, and other abuses. It's tricky to cram the fact that The LA Times compared the workers that Wendy's profits from to slaves into a 280-character zinger. Although a man volunteering to take a beating that was about to be given to a woman who had the audacity to ask for a little food for her starving children is certainly "savage AF."
That's how companies advertise to people who consider themselves too sophisticated for advertising. Just act exactly like everyone else does online, except for the part where you're complicit in widespread human rights violations and really don't want to talk about it. The most devious part is that Wendy's is targeting young adults, the same demographic that will retweet articles about how fast food workers deserve raises and then like a Wendy's post 20 seconds later. It's an endless churn of content that drops your guard, because it's hard to think about human rights issues when you were looking at a cute hedgehog just a moment ago.
The other tactic to watch out for is brands trying to inspire you in the vaguest, most inoffensive ways possible. Heineken racked up nearly 15 million views and dozens of fawning headlines for their "Worlds Apart" campaign, which featured people with different political views bonding over the construction of baby's first IKEA project and the chilled cat urine that Heineken calls beer. A man who's critical of feminism works with a staunch feminist, and someone who doesn't understand the need for transgender rights learns that, gasp, he was working with a trans woman! They talk things out, because Heineken found reasonable people instead of total monsters, and we get some vague platitudes about how deep down, we're all the same, and less deep down, we all loooove Heineken. Huffpost called it "a beautiful blend of beer and politics," The AV Club said that "Heineken accomplishes what Pepsi couldn't," and it was widely praised on social media.