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Arby’s Rises Above Years Of “Daily Show” Mockery, Runs Jon Stewart Tribute Ads

The brand pays tribute to the man who gave them the tagline, “It’s like shock and awe for your bowels.”

Arby’s Rises Above Years Of “Daily Show” Mockery, Runs Jon Stewart Tribute Ads

When a brand is mercilessly mocked on a late night comedy show, a lot of PR experts might advise the brand’s keepers to keep quiet, maintain a low profile and pretend the jokes never existed. Why draw attention to professionally crafted insults that question the qualification of your product as actual food? Arby’s knows this. But Arby’s also knows that in these social media times being a good sport can be good for business.

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During Jon Stewart’s second-last night as host of The Daily Show, the fast feeder launched two new ads that take “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” to its marketing extreme. The first spot was a tribute to Stewart that was essentially a greatest hits compilation of the comedian’s insults against the brand, including “Arby’s: Isn’t there anywhere else to eat?” “Arby’s: Come for the tweets, run from the meats,” “Arby’s: It’s like shock and awe for your bowels,” and “Arby’s: Why not challenge your stomach to a fight?” All to the tune of what sounds like Ving Rhames singing The Golden Girls theme song.

The second spot unveiled a Jon Stewart tribute sandwich called The Daily Deli, double corned beef and deli mustard on marble rye.

It’s not the first time Arby’s has tried to woo Stewart. When Stewart announced he was leaving the show, the brand offered him a job over Twitter, only to be–you guessed it–once again ridiculed by the host. Still, all press is good press, right? For Arby’s, it seems to be working out. Brand chief executive Paul Brown told The Wall Street Journal that all those mentions by Stewart, most of which depicted its product as an aggressive blitzkrieg on your bowels, was actually some solid free advertising.

“Collectively, what is going on has resulted in uplift of business performance,” said Brown, telling WSJ that same-store sales were up 9.6% for the first quarter and up 7.6% in the second quarter.

Jon Stewart’s Best Moments:

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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