The Vagaries of Branding

So yesterday evening my son patronized the drive-through at Arby’s to grab the fam something quick for supper. The first thing he ordered was a roast beef sandwich, which has been an Arby’s stalwart for decades.

“I’m sorry, we’re out of roast beef,” the poor attendant told him.

Wait!… What?!

In other words…


It’s probably an issue with supply; all kinds of industries and business sectors are still having difficulty overcoming supply-chain problems that became obvious, and disrupting, during the pandemic. Regardless of whether that’s the problem, I doubt the Arby’s brand manager is going to be able to simply shrug this one off.

Doubly disastrous for Arby’s, the situation calls to mind one of its competitors (decidedly not the goal of branding). Back in the day, the competitor’s little old lady inquired with incredulity


Arby's logo plus tagline
Screenshot from Wendy's "Where's the Beef" commercial
Wendy’s 1984 “Where’s the Beef?” TV spot. Click image to watch.

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Martin C. Fredricks IV

Martin C. “Red” Fredricks IV here. I’m husband to an amazing woman who is also my best friend, dad to three outstanding kids, Fargoan (North Dakota, that is), proud introvert, veteran messaging strategist/copywriter, blogger ( nonprofit founder ( and big-time reader. As they say, if you're gonna write good stuff, you have to read good stuff. A ginger, too - ergo the "Red" - although some of it's going white. Cinnamon-Sugar, I call it. Tattooed to boot; seven so far. At age 54, I'm stilling crankin' AC/DC & Metallica, but now and again I spin some Eric Church and Black Uhuru, too. I love hanging out with my (much) better half, spending time with our kids, writing, hiking, riding my mountain bike and reading.


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