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KFC, WENDY'S GO NAT'L WITH WRAPS: FAST-FEEDERS JOIN TREND FOR LIGHTER SANDWICHES

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Buoyed by test-market results, KFC Corp. and Wendy's International are planning national ad campaigns to support the rollout of wrap sandwiches.

KFC in July will back the national introduction of its Twister sandwich-a rolled tortilla stuffed with chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato and cream sauce-with TV spots from Y&R Advertising, New York. Spots will carry the ongoing tagline "Everybody needs a little KFC."

The sandwich has been a hit in southern California and Tennessee test markets, said Kingston, N.Y.-based franchisee Darlene Pfeiffer, who operates four KFC units.

WENDY'S STARTS EARLIER

On May 1, Wendy's will kick off a national TV campaign for its Fresh Stuffed Pitas via Bates USA, New York. Taco Bell Corp., a PepsiCo sister chain to KFC, added a Fajita Wrap sandwich in November.

Industry analysts said the wrap sandwiches are the first promising new fast-food productS to come along in a while. Judging from early sales results, consumers seem to agree.

Since Wendy's began rolling out its Fresh Stuffed Pitas, same-store sales of company-owned units climbed 8% in January and 5.5% in February, said Janice Meyer, an analyst with Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette. Wendy's pitas come in four varieties: Garden Ranch Chicken, Garden Veggie, Chicken Caesar and Classic Greek.

"The product has good appeal to women, and it's a product other than a hamburger that will hold up despite discounting," Ms. Meyer said.

It's also the first permanent new product Wendy's has introduced since adding Salads to Go in the early '90s, according to a spokesman for the chain.

Ms. Pfeiffer said customers respond well to the portability of wraps, adding that the sandwiches have a "lighter taste than a heavy bread" sandwich.

FEMININE APPEAL

The light taste of wraps accounts for their appeal to women, said executives at DavCo, a Wendy's franchisee operating 230 restaurants in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states.

"The pitas are selling skewed female predominantly," said Georgia Smith, DavCo's director of marketing. DavCo began selling the pitas in some of its stores in December.

Wendy's maintains it isn't targeting women specifically;

Marketing support for Fresh Stuffed Pitas also includes a tie-in with ABC's "3-D Week" May sweeps promotion.

During the week of May 5, ABC will air nine prime-time shows featuring 3-D segments; promotional spots running the week before instruct customers to go to Wendy's for the glasses.

Wrap sandwiches are also the rage among casual-dining chains. Long John Silver's, T.G.I. Friday's and Applebee's are among those with wraps on their menus.

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