Double-burger bargains emerge as new artillery in QSR wars

DUBLIN Ohio Wendy’s has added a 99-cent double cheeseburger to its value menu, matching the double-burger bargains already offered by McDonald’s and Burger King.

In Southern California, BK is using billboards to tout its 99-cent double cheeseburger as being bigger than McDonald’s version. Privately, BK has acknowledged that McDonald’s $1 double cheeseburger has been a strong customer draw.

“It is our belief that the dollar double cheeseburger is the most powerful weapon our competitor has to continue their growth and steal disproportionate share from the category,” Russ Klein, BK’s president of global marketing, strategy and innovation, said in a memo in mid-November to the chain’s employees and franchisees. A copy of the note was intercepted and excerpted by Dow Jones Newswires.

At the time, BK said it would use a 99-cent double cheeseburger as a limited-time offer. Dow Jones reported that a three-market test of the heftier burger was about to commence. It is not clear if the sandwich is being advertised in Southern California as part of the testing or as an early phase of a rollout.

Wendy’s entrant in the emerging value battle will be promoted via national television advertising from Dec. 31 through the end of January. Called the Stack Attack, the new sandwich consists of two hamburger patties with cheese between them. The No. 3 burger chain describes the item as “big taste” for “hungry consumers” who are keeping an eye on their expenses.

“With the launch of the Stack Attack, we’re giving our customers more value and more choices at a time when gas prices remain high and they are facing financial pressures,” said Paul Kershisnik, senior vice president of marketing strategy and innovation for the Dublin, Ohio-based chain.

In a statement, Kershisnik said the addition of the burger is the first step in a new initiative “that will broaden the way people think about value from Wendy’s.” He did not divulge additional details, but said the new value strategy had been developed in concert with franchisees. Relations with franchisees have shown signs of strain as Wendy’s explores financial alternatives that could include a sale of the franchisor.

Wendy’s Super Value Menu already contains a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, which is priced as high as $1.39 in some East Coast and West Coast markets, where costs can be higher than the national average. The value menus offered in most units contain about 14 items, and units that offer breakfast also feature an array of breakfast items priced at 99 cents.

The chain operates or franchises about 6,600 restaurants worldwide.