FT. LAUDERDALE, FL–With moderate fanfare, Arby's apologetically unveiled its new Beef 'N' Bacon sandwich Monday, calling the uninspired menu addition "pretty so-so" and "more of the same."
"America, Arby's is cooking up something brand-new," said Donald Forst, president of the fast-food chain. "Just don't hold a parade or anything. This, regrettably, is just another sandwich."
The Beef 'N' Bacon, which makes its debut Aug. 15 at Arby's restaurants nationwide, features thinly sliced roast beef topped with crispy strips of bacon–a combination Forst described as "somehow lacking a truly special element."
"Let us be clear: This sandwich is by no means bad," Forst said. "But we'd be lying if we said this was a great sandwich or a particularly original one. Though we have little doubt that a handful of people will love the Beef 'N' Bacon, for us to claim that we've come up with a groundbreaking new sandwich sensation would be absurd. Boasts of that measure would be foolhardy and deceptive, especially in light of the fact that Arby's has introduced much better sandwiches in the past."
"Like the Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich," Forst said. "Now, that is an amazing sandwich. I could eat two of those right now."
Salivating at the thought of the Chicken Cordon Bleu, Forst returned to the subject at hand. "So, you know, try the new Beef-Bacon thing with an order of our delicious Cheddar Curly Fries and a Jamocha shake," he said. "If you had the fries and the shake with it, that would make for a pretty good meal."
According to Marianne Shepherd, Arby's vice-president of product development, the new sandwich was the result of a long testing process that "just didn't hit a home run this time."
"When we here in the Arby's family got to brainstorming new sandwiches, we figured a combination of Arby's delicious, hot roast beef, crispy bacon, and fresh lettuce and tomatoes, topped with a zesty pepper-jack sauce on a fluffy Kaiser bun, would be a winner," Shepherd said. "But somehow, the end result was, well, edible, obviously, or we wouldn't sell it, and possibly even savory or delectable to someone who is very hungry. But great? Certainly not. In the final analysis, our Beef 'N' Bacon sandwich is merely 'good.' But, hey, meat is meat."
Continued Forst: "I think the upshot of what we're saying is, if you love sandwiches of all kinds, then here is something moderately different that you might like to try. If, however, you are sick and tired of 'the same old sandwich,' then by all means steer clear of the Beef 'N' Bacon. Instead, maybe try the Arby's Big Montana sandwich, if you've never had one of those. Or just go to a different restaurant."
The Beef 'N' Bacon was then ceremonially 'launched' by being brought out on a domed platter and served to Forst, who took a single bite from the sandwich and promptly requested a beverage.
"We also introduce new sandwiches in the spring," said Forst, spitting out a chunk of iceberg lettuce. "Wait until then. Next spring's offering should be really exciting. A lot better than the Beef 'N' Bacon, I'm willing to bet."
Arby's efforts to develop a marketing campaign for the new sandwich have proven difficult, given the dearth of noteworthy attributes to emphasize.
"We considered the tagline 'The Sandwich Lovers' Sandwich,'" Arby's director of advertising Bill Plunkett said. "But, then, we figured that could backfire: If we overhyped it, regular customers might lose their trust in us, and first-time customers might mistakenly think it was the best Arby's had to offer and never try anything else."
The Arby's marketing team eventually settled on a billboard campaign centering on a pair of slogans, "Same Shit, Different Bun" and "Beef. Bacon. There Ya Go." Also planned is a series of TV commercials featuring blues legend B.B. King tasting the sandwich and exclaiming, "That's Food, Baby."