Wendy’s 2020 breakfast rollout was muted by the start of the pandemic yet still spelled success for the chain, which grew U.S. sales last year and swiped the No. 2 fast-food burger spot away from Burger King.
Now, Wendy’s is back with an updated breakfast and basketball-themed campaign that will progress during and after the NCAA March Madness tournament.
Last March, like many basketball fans, Wendy’s Chief Marketing Officer Carl Loredo was concerned about COVID-19 and disappointed that his college team—in his case, the Texas Longhorns—wasn't be able to compete as the tournament had been canceled. It also meant Wendy’s, an NCAA sponsor since 2017, had to rethink its marketing approach.
“It was this week last year that we were all beginning to come to grips with the realities of COVID, and the world did change,” Loredo says on the latest episode of Ad Age’s “Marketer’s Brief” podcast.
By late March 2020, Wendy's pulled back on its big breakfast push. Still, breakfast “was one of the stalwarts of the brand, even despite the challenges that we went through last year,” says Loredo.
Breakfast accounted for 7% of Wendy’s sales at the end of 2020. The chain aims for breakfast to grow 30% this year, aided by plenty of marketing, and comprise 10% of its sales by the end of 2022.
Wendy’s is now telling its breakfast story in a spot featuring former Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller moving into a Wendy’s in Indianapolis to serve as his home during March Madness, which is taking place in the city.
“There’s just going to be so much pent-up energy we could probably be running these games at 5 a.m. and everybody would be all over them because they’re just so excited to have March Madness,” says Loredo.