Washington Post: How Arby’s came to embrace Jon Stewart’s jabs
Newspaper explains how Arby’s got the last laugh on famous comedian, turned years of insults into applause
When Jon Stewart announced his plans to retire as host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, you might have expected those of us at Arby’s to breath a sigh of relief. After all, Stewart had spent the past few years using Arby’s as a running punch line.
Well, we know how to take a joke. After each of Stewart’s cracks, we catered lunch for his crew. Thanks, Jon. You obviously haven’t actually eaten our food, so enjoy!
We also know how to deliver a joke. We decided to sponsor Stewart’s second-to-last episode, and we delivered a bold commercial that gave Stewart’s fans a good laugh, earned their respect, and drove business to our restaurants.
A bold solution
Stewart’s jokes were actually a perfect foil for Arby’s. At the same time that the comedian started regularly making jabs, Arby’s has launched new menu items and a new marketing campaign to highlight the quality of our food. Sales were soaring.
As The Washington Post reports, “executives thought maybe a bit of publicity — even if it wasn’t exactly favorable — might not be a bad thing.”
From the Post:
Fuller said the thinking was: “This is a brand that in a lot of ways is a sleeping giant, and we haven’t been in the conversation, so there’s an opportunity here to really embrace it.”
Since then, Arby’s has tried to show it is in on the joke. …
when Stewart announced earlier this year that he was leaving the show, they ribbed him on Twitter:
Jon, feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com.
— Arby’s (@Arbys) February 11, 2015
Fuller said it’s hard to measure whether the publicity has had any impact on Arby’s sales, which were up 7.6 percent in the most recent quarter and up 9.6 percent in the previous quarter. But customer sentiment on social media and in e-mails to Arby’s seems largely favorable, he said. Indeed, AdWeek reports that the social media reaction to Arby’s Wednesday night farewell commercials was mostly positive.
“We’re seeing in social media that we were getting a lot of credit for being cool with it, that we were having a sense of humor,” Fuller said.
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