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LONG JOHN SILVER'S, HARDEE'S THINK BIG; TROUBLED FAST-FOOD CHAINS PIN HOPES ON OFFERING VALUE VIA LARGE PORTIONS

By Published on .

Two fast-food chains desperately seeking turnarounds have decided that size really does matter when courting consumers.

Long John Silver's will add a line of 16- and 24-ounce "wrap" sandwiches to its menu Nov. 6, backed by a $12 million marketing campaign. Meanwhile, Hardee's Food Systems has rolled out its Monster Burger, featuring two quarter-pound beef patties, three slices of cheese and eight strips of bacon.

A BREAKFAST PRODUCT TOO

Hardee's product is supported by TV spots that broke over the weekend, said Dan Ginsberg, exec VP-marketing.

The ads, handled by Pearlstein Group, Los Angeles, also promote a companion product, the Monster Omelet Biscuit, with ham, cheese and egg on a biscuit. Commercials emphasize the new products' size and end with a new tagline: "What will they think of next?"

The introduction of both lines reflects the growing trend among fast-food operators to emphasize value with bigger portions, rather than price-cutting.

The Long John Wraps sandwiches feature a choice of fish, shrimp or chicken, wrapped in flatbread with rice, lettuce, tomatoes and a choice of sauces.

Marketing will include TV spots, coupon drops and in-store promotion. Temerlin McClain, Dallas, handles the campaign, which features a new tagline: "Take a fresh look at Long John's."

The budget for the campaign is approximately double Long John Silver's normal November-December marketing expenditures, a spokesman said, declining to discuss figures.

FROM THE WEST COAST

Wrap-sandwich restaurants have been sprouting up on the West Coast for the past year. Although several chains, including KFC Corp., Wendy's International and Au Bon Pain are testing their own wraps, this is the first systemwide rollout by a national fast-food chain.

Senior VP-Business Development Tom Ryan, a product developer who joined Long John Silver's in February, scored a hit last year for Pizza Hut, where he created its Stuffed Crust pizza.

Both Long John Silver's and Hardee's badly need a hit. Sales for the chains were down 2.6% and 8.4% last year, respectively, according to Restaurants & Institutions, and Long John Silver's had a management shakeup last spring.

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