Arby’s is launching an innovative brand positioning campaign to establish itself as the leader in a rapidly emerging industry niche—adult fast food.

The “Adult Truths” system-wide campaign will kick off March 5th. The cornerstone of the program is TV and radio advertising that utilizes the voice of Patricia Richardson, star of ABC’s “Home Improvement”. The Arby’s commercials, created by Doner (Southfield, Mi.) utilize humor and wordplay to position the brand as fast food for today’s more discriminating adult tastes. All spots feature the tagline, “Arby’s. Now that your tastes have grown-up.”

“Today’s generation of baby boomers grew up with fast food, and they’re comfortable with the convenience and the cost,” said Jon May, CEO of Triarc Restaurant Group (TRG), franchiser of the Arby’s brand. “But they want more variety and taste, and they want a more sophisticated, relaxing dining experience. At Arby’s, we have always marketed to adults, so we’re ideally positioned to capture a major segment of today’s rapidly growing adult fast food market.”

“The adult positioning is a culmination of what Arby’s has been doing for the last three years with facility upgrades, menu enhancements and in-store training,” said Michael Owe, President and COO of TRG. “The system-wide launch of the adult positioning campaign comes at a time of unprecedented expansion for Arby’s. In fact, we’re just now celebrating twelve consecutive quarters of positive sales growth in the Arby’s system.”

System-wide sales for 1999 were approximately $2.3 billion, an increase of 4.5%, or $100 million over 1998. Comparative same store sales were at +2.0%.

The brand’s new adult-focused strategy reflects every aspect of Arby’s marketing, merchandising and in-store operations—from food quality and choices; to restaurant decor and architecture, POP design and packaging; to a heightened focus on hospitality and service. New in-store graphics and tray-liners will debut in May and a comprehensive hospitality program to ensure better service launches in March.

“We’re confident that this new positioning campaign will be extraordinarily successful for Arby’s, while using the newly coined adult fast food category to set a new precedent for the fast food industry in general,” said Lloyd Fritzmeier, President of Arby’s Franchise Associates (AFA), the marketing arm of the Arby’s brand. “We’re not trying to be all things to all people—we’re just intensifying our focus on Arby’s core strengths.”

The new campaign was borne out of over a year’s research with 1,800 heavy fast food users about what it means to be a “grown-up” and how being “grown-up” impacts their fast food dining habits and attitudes. According to AFA, the results of this extensive consumer research have helped to define and validate the core market positioning that Arby’s has steadfastly maintained for over 36 years.

To ensure a more relaxing in-store experience, TRG has focused on developing modern, contemporary restaurant environments. Nearly 500 Arby’s units are built in the Pinnacle design that features such structural elements as cathedral ceilings and expanded window space.

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