Arby’s has the meats, and your back

Arby’s isn’t the cheapest fast food chain, nor the fastest. But their commitment to heartland values and ethics means they will continue to sell lots of beef, and poke a little fun at vegetarians in the process.

Burt Rutherford, Senior Editor

February 8, 2018

3 Min Read
Arby’s has the meats, and your back
Getty Images/Rick Diamond

A beef tongue sandwich? From a fast food joint?

It’s not out of the question, said Jim Taylor, chief marketing officer with Arby’s. Speaking during the opening session of the Cattlemen’s College, held in conjunction with the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention in Phoenix, Taylor told a packed house that Arby’s is always innovating and looking for new food items they can introduce.

“There’s almost nothing we haven’t looked at,” he said. “Cow tongue is one thing. Even that’s on the table.” While that may seem to be pushing the taste buds of the American consumer a little bit, that’s what Arby’s does, he said. “Especially the younger generation is influenced by ethnic food. They have a lot of appetite for different things.”

In fact, Arby’s launched more than 100 products over the last five years, 20 of which have made the cut. Among them are four beef offerings—bourbon barbecue brisket and steak sandwiches, a Philly cheesesteak and a beef gyro. All of them, he told the cattle producers, were big hits.

Related: Why restaurant customer service matters to beef producers

Then there’s Arby’s venison sandwich. In research leading up to their current “We have the meats” advertising campaign, Arby’s identified their core customers as proud American carnivores. Digging deeper into that, they looked at hunters, “which is a natural match because they hunt the meat,” he said.

So Arby’s launched some marketing programs targeted at hunters. “It was a fantastic program and we’re going to continue to do some interesting things around hunters because nobody’s really talking to them.”

In that vein, he told the audience that beef won’t be left behind. “You’re going to see some things, probably this year, that are different cuts of beef that we’re going to roll out to our guests.”

Arby’s offers a full line of big, meaty sandwiches featuring not just beef, but other meats as well. “But make no mistake, beef is the absolute heart of what we’re made of, the heart and soul of the Arby’s experience. And I’m excited about offering people new cuts of beef to enjoy.”

You have likely seen Arby’s “We have the meats” TV ads. If you haven’t, you’re missing some chuckles. “Arby’s has taken a little heat for making fun of vegetarians,” Taylor said, “but I think we have a righto be offended [too]. They eat our food’s food. That’s just not fair. What’s our food going to eat if they continue to eat its food?” he asked to laughter from the crowd.

Back in my college days, when I was still under the impression that I was a pretty tough cowboy, me and others with the same impression of themselves went to as many rodeos as we could afford. One of the guys I rodeoed with was married and his wife managed an Arby’s restaurant. Being nearly broke most of the time, I was very grateful for her generosity in giving us a bit of a break when we would come in for something to eat.

I stopped at an Arby’s just a couple of weeks ago, mainly because I enjoy their TV ads so much. There haven’t been many other stops in the many years in between.

I think I need to change that.


About the Author(s)

Burt Rutherford

Senior Editor, BEEF Magazine

Burt Rutherford is director of content and senior editor of BEEF. He has nearly 40 years’ experience communicating about the beef industry. A Colorado native and graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in agricultural journalism, he now works from his home base in Colorado. He worked as communications director for the North American Limousin Foundation and editor of the Western Livestock Journal before spending 21 years as communications director for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. He works to keep BEEF readers informed of trends and production practices to bolster the bottom line.

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