I’m Thinking Arby’s

Friend of AdPulp, Tom Asacker, is looking for examples of excellence in marketing communications (direct mail, ad, collateral, web, etc.). By “excellence” he means:
1. Something that grabs your attention because it is different, out of the ordinary, has a “wow” factor, makes you think, etc.
2. Quickly communicates what’s in it for the prospect and why. Note: It could be anything from saving time, having fun, social capital, etc. B-to-B or B-to-C.
3. Makes it clear “how” the company/brand accomplishes #2. Proves the claim in some creative way.
If you have an example to share, leave a comment here, or contact Tom directly.
Here’s my example…
Last night I saw a new Arby’s spot, where a pitchman is in the board room at McDonald’s trying to sell the big wigs on 100% natural chicken, instead of the 70% chicken plus fillers they now use in their sandwiches. McDonald’s wasn’t interested in the man’s pitch. In fact, the faux managers found it laughable.
While there’s nothing new in the attack ad format, the spot got my attention and made me think. Given that only one out of every 100 or so ads has the power to do that, I’d say Arby’s has a successful campaign on their hands. I find it compelling because Arby’s neatly differentiates itself from the competition, something entertainment-only ads fail to do.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Marv Black says:

    I guess I have to disagree with Mr Asacker’s position with the Arby’s ad. I have watched both the McDonald’s and Wendy’s version of the Arby’s ad. I basically missed the fact it was an Arby’s ad…all I could remember was staring at the McDonald’s and Wendy’s logo while a verbal message was “delivered” about the technology of cooking chicken. No supportive visual about the water and bad ingedient additives. Off camera person “telling” the story while a competitive logo is shown. As I read the review, I thought “Yes, I remember the ads and yes, I guess they were for Arby’s…but I wasn’t certain. I think they will not be very successful. MAybe “neat” from an adertising point of view, but will fall short on building any Arby’s brtand recognition as well as delivering an understandable message.

  2. Marv,
    What you read above is my take on Arby’s. Not Tom’s.

  3. i’m not a big fan of these spots. first of all, they are very similar to the new wash. mutual ads where the wamu employee talks about all of their great services while a bunch of old, steriotypical bankers react. and i don’t think those spots are very good either, although they do a better job than arby’s at making their point clear. arby’s is probabl at best a 3rd or 4th option for most fast food eaters, so they need to do a better job of proving why they are better than the big guys. i agree with marv, it is not easy to even recognize these spots as coming from arby’s.
    for me, one of the more effective ads in recent years (and one that was quite entertaining as well) was the ‘dance party’ spot for Nextel. the guys are in a small office dancing to an old salt ‘n pepa song and a co-worker comes in with a bunch of questions. they stop the music, use their Nextel phones to answer all of the questions, and then go back to dancing. simple, funny and very effective in my opinion.

  4. Damn, I’m hungry for some Arbys.

  5. I miss Clara Peller now. Thanks guys.
    (Weeping, weeping.)

  6. just me says:

    I went to work and as you know you talk about what going on and all. someone said did you see the arbys spot and we all thought why would you go after somethings else? One big point with me is arbys is differnt and there are alot of people that love it. So stay differnt show me why I’m thinking arby’s

  7. I love the new commercials! I love the spokesperson. He’s so dorky and funny. I didn’t know that there was all that salt and phosphate in fast food chicken. KUDOS to Arby’s for taking a stand.

  8. Hi –
    I am one of the actors in the Arby’s commercial! Found this website while looking
    to see where the commercial was running. Does
    anyone remember what station they saw it on??
    Thanks for any info!
    btw, glad to know that at least some of you liked it!!

  9. These attack ads are effective and they probably will get the attention of at least some potential buyers. Besides the shock of Arby’s directly calling out, or rather, shouting up at, its competitors, the ad also leads you to believe that Arby’s is really looking out for you — it isn’t. In reality, the Arby’s sandwich is really not much better or worse for you than any other chain’s. While the chicken is free of unnatural hormones and antibodies, it still must endure all the usual fast food processing before you get it. The end product you get from Arby’s is really no different than a grilled chicken sandwich you’d get at any of the big three (the nutrition facts of each sandwich are nearly identical), but the ad does what ads are supposed to do: distinguish the product.

  10. Hi. I like the way you write. Will you post some more articles?

  11. Cheryl Emery says:

    The Arbys commercial where they say ‘it’s not just banks and insurance companies can get bail outs”…….What insurance company has gotten a bail out? They didn’t even get bailouts after the devistating huricanes. It’s the banks and car company’s that got the bail outs. Every time I hear that add I think “if they can’t get their facts straight what else do they get wrong?

  12. AIG received over 182 BILLION dollars Cheryl. They’re an international insurance and financial services organization.
    Will tell you where a PORTION of the taxpayer bailout money is going.
    When you complain about people getting their facts straight, you should probably do some research first.