Yum! Brands isn’t holding back on dressing up its A&W Restaurants unit for a possible sale. In addition to springing for TV advertising for a Steak Burger rollout, the chain is testing three Texas Toast Chicken sandwiches.
The market test includes Honey Dijon Club, BLT and Buffalo chicken sandwiches, all on thick toast and dressed with bacon, cheese, lettuce and sauces. A&W’s menu currently includes only plain Crispy Chicken and Grilled Chicken sandwiches, although the chain has tried a Honey Dijon Club sandwich in the past (but not on toast). A TV spot supporting the test tells consumers to “break out of the boredom of bun-chicken-bun” sandwiches with the Texas Toast line’s “premium taste from toast to toast.” With beef prices rising, more chicken sandwiches are expected to appear on QSR menus this spring.
Yum! Brands put the A&W Restaurants and Long John Silver’s brands on the block in January. Shedding these two lower-sales chains—which it acquired in 2002 for $320 million—will allow Yum to focus on Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC. There are approximately 322 A&W units in the U.S. and 317 units in other countries. The Canadian A&W chain, operated by A&W Food Services of Canada, has no ties to the U.S. brand.
Louisville-based A&W spent little more than $1 million on measured-media advertising in 2010 after spending of $1.8 million in 2009, according to Ad Age. In recent months, however, in preparation for a sale, Yum! has increased A&W’s allowance for menu R&D and TV ads. A&W has produced commercials for a $2.99 BBQ Bacon Crunch burger, its $3 Big Taste Meals and the current Steak Burger blitz.