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Arby’s head of brand innovation, Ellen Rose, shares the keys to the chain’s success

Menu innovation and culturally relevant marketing keep the restaurants top of mind


Arby’s was on track to hit 10 years of same-store sales growth when the pandemic hit, and through fast-thinking, menu innovation, marketing and some luck, they continued to see sales rise and they’re on track to hit an 11-year streak in 2022.

Ellen Rose, the quick-service chain’s vice president of brand innovation, said Arby’s was already ramping up third-party delivery before COVID arrived, and they also were testing a 2 for $6 everyday value menu that they fast-tracked.

Quick thinking by franchisees, such as using the plexiglass on the inside menu boards that no one was looking at as barriers at the drive-thru, also helped them power through the height of the pandemic.

The chain has continued to innovate with the launch of crinkle fries in the spring and, coinciding with McDonald’s nationwide McRib promotion, a Real Country Style Rib sandwich.

As if the unspoken jab at the Golden Arches wasn’t enough, Arby’s also marketed it with extreme limited-edition Smoke Sweats, which are sweats imbued with the aroma of smoke.

The chain also launched the RBs for Arby’s promotion, which sponsored college football running backs who said they were going to Arby’s.

Rose recently discussed those efforts and others that have helped the chain to succeed.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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