Wendy's To Beef Up Advertising, Marketing

While Wendy's itself might be on the market soon, the head of the burger chain said Friday the company is likely to feel some heat from McDonald's new third-pound burger, and needs to reinforce where it stands in the marketplace.

"We really have to take our [marketing] initiatives to the next level," said CEO Kerri Anderson, referring to the competitive Angus product. Anderson said Wendy's would continue to emphasize a "quality" positioning of "fresh, never frozen beef" and "made to order."

Separately, Wendy's said it would look to roll out "distinctive national advertising," including for its 4-month-old Baconator--and next month will focus on a jalapeno cheddar "double" product, offering a free music download with a purchase upgrade.

Also included on a list of goals aimed at improving performance were efforts to increase share in the "value menu" market among 18- to-34-year-olds, as well as aggressive moves into the breakfast market, the fastest-growing segment in the fast-food business.

"While McDonald's has rolled out the Angus burger, you've got to keep saying to yourself, 'Do you go to the freezer and buy your burger or do you go to go the fresh section and buy your burger?'" she said on a conference call with investors.

Wendy's posted a slight .2% increase in U.S. same-store (non-franchised) sales in the just-completed third quarter, down from a 4.1% increase last year. Revenues overall were also up .2% to $631.1 million.

Anderson said: "Our advertising is breaking through and gaining the attention of our consumers."

A special committee at Wendy's has been evaluating strategic opportunities for the chain--and a sale is possible, although executives said the group is still evaluating options.

"We are committed to fiercely protecting this great brand and improving the value of this great brand and this company as we position it for future growth and profitability," Anderson said.

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