Where's the beef? Still on Arby's menu despite surging prices

Arby's menu reads like a caveman's diet: smoked brisket, Angus steak, corned beef, pepper bacon, ham and roast beef.

One would think a restaurant's meat-heavy menu is something it wouldn't want to highlight during a period of record meat prices.

Arby's Meat Mountain
Source: Arby's
Arby's Meat Mountain

Not Arby's. The fast food outlet is sticking with a campaign that touts animal proteins—even in the face of ground beef, pork, ham and steak prices surging by double digits compared to a year ago, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in September.

"Particularly right now, if we can offer a reasonably priced steak sandwich because of beef prices going up, (customers) are feeling it in so many other ways," Arby's CEO Paul Brown told CNBC in an interview. "I think it's going to be a great opportunity to reintroduce people to the brand."

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Arby's isn't the only company to release items for the carnivore consumer. Late last month, Papa John's released a limited edition Ultimate Meats Pizza that features a whopping five different types of meat for $12. Meanwhile, 7-Eleven promoted its deluxe meat pizza with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, beef, pork sausage and diced bacon for $6.99 this year.

Since meat has always been at the core of Arby's brand, Brown doesn't want to shift its strategy just because of commodity price increases.

Although the restaurant doesn't intend to change gears, Arby's "We Have the Meats" campaign comes at an awkward time, with the first ad spots having launched nationally in late July—coinciding with the rise in meat prices.

Planning for the campaign began before Arby's really saw the extent of how much prices would jump, Arby's Chief Marketing Officer Rob Lynch told CNBC. Still, it's willing to invest in some of its more premium sandwiches that cost more to produce to set itself apart in the fiercely competitive fast-food industry.

"I'm always trying to espouse the mantra of focus externally on the customer, rather than internally on the cost," Lynch said.

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So far, that philosophy appears to be helping boost sales.

During the last 12 months, Arby's same store sales growth has been more than 5 percent, Brown said. Since it reintroduced brisket last fall and began the new ad campaign, the privately held company's performance has improved relative to the rest of the industry, Brown added.