McDonald's and Wendy's are locked in a high-stakes burger battle -- and the rivalry is only going to get messier

Hollis JohnsonWendy’s is doubling down on its beef with McDonald’s.
  • McDonald’s is now selling Quarter Pounders made with fresh beef nationwide – something that has long been a key advantage for fast-food rival Wendy’s.
  • Wendy’s is fighting back by slamming McDonald’s in advertising.
  • “We’ll keep screaming that from the rooftops and continue to hold others in check on what is really happening,” CEO Todd Penegor said Wednesday, encouraging investors to “look on Twitter” for evidence of Wendy’s feisty responses to McDonald’s fresh beef.

Wendy’s is doubling down on a key advantage as McDonald’s tries to edge into its rival’s territory.

On Monday, McDonald’s announced that it had completed its roll-out of fresh-beef Quarter Pounders across the US. With the completion of the national roll-out, the chain is planning to launch national advertising around the revamped, higher-quality burger.

At face value, this is extremely bad news for Wendy’s. The fast-food chain has aggressively advertised its use of fresh, never-frozen beef in all its burgers, launching a national campaign highlighting its fresh beef and slamming McDonald’s for its frozen patties in February.

However, Wendy’s is trying to spin McDonald’s attempt to take away its fresh-beef advantage as an opportunity.

On Wednesday, executives said in a call with investors that Wendy’s has not yet seen any impact, positive or negative, from McDonald’s fresh-beef roll-out.

“It’s still early,” Wendy’s CEO Todd Penegor said. “The competitor just turned on their national support.”

Instead of shying away from the discussion, Wendy’s has launched its own advertising around McDonald’s decision, emphasising that the rival chain is currently only using fresh beef in its Quarter Pounder burgers.

“We’ll keep screaming that from the rooftops and continue to hold others in check on what is really happening,” Penegor said, encouraging investors to “look on Twitter” to see Wendy’s responses.

This week, Wendy’s has taken to social media to slam McDonald’s for serving some burgers that do not use fresh beef. On Tuesday, the fast-food chain tweeted a meme spoiling the end of “Avengers: Infinity War” to slam McDonald’s for using frozen beef in the Big Mac.

“We wanted to make sure that people aren’t confused about what is communicated and what is reality,” Kurt Kane, Wendy’s chief concept and marketing officer, told Business Insider in March, when Wendy’s began its most recent anti-McDonald’s social media campaign.

He added: “You shouldn’t have to use a decoder ring to figure out what quality you’re going to get” when you order a burger.

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