In a recent public relations stunt, struggling fast-food chain Arby’s posted an open letter to “vegetarians across America” where the company plugged its “innovative” brown sugar bacon. Stating that “it may be hard to resist” this latest meat-based product,the fast-food chain decided to launch a “Vegetarian Support Line” to address the temptation. However, perhaps a support line to save Arby’s from the fast-food abyss would be a better idea given J.P. Morgan’s assessment of the chain’s performance in 2010 “as amongst the worst in modern restaurant history.” That same year, Brand Keys president Robert Passikoff said that “their engagement loyalty bond is so weak that their own customers are rating them low.” Arby’s, whose stock has been plummeting even before the 2008 economic crisis, is no stranger to irrelevancy, as the company has lifted ideas from McDonald’s and Subway to increase revenue. While Arby’s is busy pushing meat, chains such as Wendy’s, Chipotle, Pinkberry, and Subway have adapted to the times by adding vegan options due to consumer demand. In a comment about the restaurant’s efforts to rebrand, Northwestern University professor Tim Calkins says, “The worst thing you could do is start bringing in lots of people into Arby’s and have them say this is exactly the Arby’s I used to know.” We agree, especially when the Arby’s you used to know wasn’t any good to begin with.
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