Wendy’s has begun its national rollout of the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger, which will be available in all restaurants in the United States and Canada by July Fourth weekend, a source with Wendy’s public-relations agency confirmed.
Denny Lynch, the Dublin, Ohio-based chain’s senior vice president of communications, said the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger would be a limited-time offer for the summer, which would be a longer promotional period than the typical four- to six-week window for LTOs. Wendy’s has not determined at this time whether the item joins the menu permanently, he said.
“I guess never say never,” Lynch said. “If sales are up a gazillion percent, why would anybody take it off the menu?”
While he had not projected sales for the sandwich in the “gazillions,” Janney Capital Markets securities analyst Mark Kalinowski had written in a research note last month that the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger was one of Wendy’s most successful test-market items ever, leading him to upgrade Janney’s rating of Wendy’s stock from “neutral” to “buy.” In his note, Kalinowski wrote that the sandwich could account on its own for a 3-percent same-store sales lift, increasing Janney’s forecast for third-quarter same-store sales by more than 5 percent.
Lynch confirmed that the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger was tested between six and eight weeks in Miami, Cleveland, and Sacramento, Calif. The item was advertised in those markets with four weeks of television commercials and one to two weeks without marketing support on either end of that commercial flight.
Advertising for the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger features the chain’s Red character and fits into Wendy’s “high-low” marketing plan, which chief executive Emil Brolick described during the company’s first-quarter earnings call. The sandwich’s commercials will run concurrently with ongoing spots for Wendy’s Right Price Right Size value menu and other platforms directed toward the core quick-service customers who remain price-focused.
“It’s a strategy to promote premium items and value concurrently,” Lynch said. “Some weeks there will be some overlap, but other times you might have a week or two of a heavy value focus.”
The Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger carries a suggest retail price of $4.69, he said.
While Wendy’s has not yet determined whether to make the new sandwich a permanent menu item, the brand does have a precedent of making successful limited-time offers fixtures on the menu. After initial runs as promotional items, the Asiago Ranch Chicken Club and the Spicy Chicken Sandwich were taken off the menu and then reintroduced as mainstays on the core menu, Lynch said. He added that he could not remember the last time that happened on the hamburger side of Wendy’s menu.
Wendy’s operates or franchises more than 6,500 restaurants in the United States and 27 foreign markets.
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