Wendy's is not alone. Earlier this month, David Novak, CEO of Louisville, Ky.-based Yum Brands, told investors his company would use McDonald's as a model to drive sales, meaning healthier options and more variety for breakfast, beverages and desserts. Expanded value and breakfast menus have led McDonald's turnaround in recent years, and the chain's double cheeseburger has anchored its value menu.
"With the launch of the Stack Attack, we're giving our customers more value and more choices at a time when gas prices remain high and they are facing financial pressures," said Paul Kershisnik, senior VP-marketing strategy and innovation at Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy's. Mr. Kershisnik is one of the executives charged with running the company's marketing department in the wake of Chief Marketing Officer Ian Rowden's recent resignation.
Wendy's will support the launch with a national ad campaign hitting Dec. 31 from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi.
While a 99-cent double cheeseburger could be a hit with consumers, it's a tough sell to some franchisees who have complained that value-menu pricing strains already-thin profit margins. The chain has, after all, made its name on fresh meats and made-to-order burgers. Higher food costs come along with that.
Yet Wendy's also has been struggling with its same-store sales of late, while competitors' have been soaring. Third-quarter same-store sales were up only 0.2% compared with a 4.1% increase the year before.
"Offering things for 99 cents that cost $1.50 to make -- you don't make any money with that," one franchisee said. "Buying that business is a waste of time. You've got to give value, but value isn't just price."
However, the late-night dollar-menu business will be critical in winning over the key millennial-male market. "It's all part of a concerted effort to more effectively and aggressively leverage our total value menu, especially with younger consumers," Mr. Kershisnik said.