Finally, we have another restaurant that is staking its claim—and I hope they stay with it this time, and don’t keep changing around like some brands I could mention. Arby’s wants you to think of them not as a sandwich restaurant, but as a meat restaurant. At first that sounds potentially gross—until they make you really confront the fact that you love meat.
If you don’t love meat, what are you doing at Arby’s?
Personally, I really appreciate the fact that I now have another example to cite when I’m talking about restaurant brands who know who they are. As of today, I believe Arby’s knows why they exist: to serve great meat. As of last night, when I was watching TV with my two sons (I think it was Cartoon Network during a Bob’s Burgers rerun) and one of these meat ads came on, everyone fell silent and watched; I believe Arby’s is back on the list. I suspect they’ll now be a choice when we’re feeling that we’ve had too many burgers and too much fried food lately—until now, Subway was our choice when we felt that way, but it was by default. Subway doesn’t consistently stand for anything, and they’ve left “great meats” open for Arby’s to steal like a bad dog surfing the counter at a butcher shop. (I spend a whole lot of my restaurant marketing book talking about the importance of defining yourself to yourself, then to the world, so that everything you do can align under that definition—and I offer specific, actionable advice. This is a link to the book. End of self-promo.)
With this commercial (actually, it’s a series), Arby’s begins wielding the power of a simple idea. That meat looks both indulgent and on-the-healthy-side. And don’t we all love when a brand positions itself as the ultimate fans of what they do, making their sales efforts appear to be done more out of love than commerce?
I have high hopes for where they take this #meatcraft business. I think they could end up owning a whole hunk of the food pyramid. Look, people are already playing around with the idea: note, for example, below, where this “Brennen Byrne” tweeter-person is playing with the idea and, perhaps, not displaying the highest standard of respect and tastefulness. But this position demands people take a side. And forcing people to take a side, when your side is the one that’s likely to attract the most paying customers, is a whole lot better than being respectful and tasteful and ignored. Just ask Carl’s Jr.