The purchase of Wordle by the New York Times is the next move in a meteoric rise for the word-based logic game. From its humble origins – a game played between a puzzle-loving couple – to a daily routine for millions around the world, the Wordle craze has been nothing short of a phenomenon.
Will this new partnership be the game’s ‘jump the shark’ moment, or can the New York Times retain the essence of Josh Wardle’s simple but addictive game – and keep its impressive streak going? Our Content & Communications Coordinator Reece Mowlem explores the Wordle obsession.
About three weeks ago, my Twitter feed began to become populated with a seemingly random distribution of green, yellow and grey coloured squares, all accompanied by a single term: Wordle. At first I just ignored the obscure additions to my daily scroll, simply flicking past the hordes of grids floating amongst my expansive sea of sporting news. But as the frequency of the posts increased, so did my intrigue. What was Wordle? Where did it come from? And why was it now suddenly dominating my timeline?
Not only did a simple Google search supply me with the answers I desired, it also led me to Wordle itself. Six and a half frustrating – yet rewarding – minutes later, I too was sharing with the internet my pride at unearthing CRANK in just four turns; I had become a perpetuator of the craze.
As addicted as I have become to Wordle, it is not the playing of the game that compelled me to write this piece. The catalyst for these words was the lightning fast reactions and abundant creativity of social media managers all across the globe.
Where there is popularity there is an opportunity – and Wordle is plenty popular. In this scenario, the opportunity is for brands to increase their reach by leveraging the virality of Wordle to forge fun, eye-catching and engaging content. Although minimalist in its aesthetic, the layout of the game has been proven by the sharpest of social media teams to have potentially endless possibilities.
The first slice of Wordle-based content that really caught my eye was a tweet from the official account of the new Marvel film ‘Spider-man: No Way Home’. In this instance, a collection of red, blue, and spider emojis had been carefully placed in a grid to depict the costume of the movie’s young hero. Accompanied by a caption of “not wordle just a spidey suit”, the post was simple in its execution, but highly effective at achieving it purpose.
In less than 24 hours, the post accumulated over 100K likes, almost 40K more than the film’s action-packed poster had received less than a week earlier. In fact, the innocuous collection of squares is the account’s most liked post of the year so far, outperforming an array of clips from the film and interviews with the star-studded cast.
The world of sport was also quick to capitalise on the trend, with Mercedes AMG F1, the Las Vegas Raiders, and Chelsea FC just a few of the industry giants putting their own spin on the format to great effect. Even when the content became somewhat predictable, the fans still lapped it up and the likes continued to roll in.
The catalogue of accounts that have since jumped on the Wordle-wagon is now longer than I have time to list, but I can assure you that its extensive. But each and everyone is creative, whilst still keeping the brand’s message at its core – a perfect combination for social success.
Wordle’s seven-figure purchase by the New York Times will undoubtedly herald a shift for the puzzle, but whether that’s for the better or worse will depend on retaining its simplicity and authenticity. For social media managers, the moment may have passed to jump on the Wordle bandwagon, and the next trend awaits. But for puzzle lovers the world over, the daily challenge will be passed into the hands of the New York Times – who has the responsibility of maintaining Wordle’s impressive streak.