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Arby's and Fletcher Martin too cheap to buy media space - Hijack other peoples billboards instead.

The brag-gag-alific press release from Fletched Martin says:

QSR Publicity Stunt Gives Appearance that People on Billboards are “Thinking Arby’s”

ATLANTA (September 19, 2008) – Fletcher Martin, a fully integrated marketing communications agency, caught drivers’ attention during the evening rush hour in Atlanta Thursday with a unique publicity stunt.

The agency, which represents Arby’s, placed large helium balloons with the Arby’s logo near billboards that prominently featured people’s faces. The stunt gave the illusion the people on the billboard were “Thinking Arby’s” as seen in the popular television ads where the Arby’s hat appears above people’s heads.

What a cheap way to get some attention, and Arby's was behind that? Can't buy your own media space guys? Wow, the US economy must be worse than I thought. Wonder what the people who paid to be on those billboards thought of the stunt, not to mention the billboard owners (in this case the owner looks to be CBS?).

Now, don't get me wrong, the idea is kind of cute, it would benefit from having a "thought bubble shaped" ballon but my guess is Arby's could not afford even novelty shapes. Whenever I see big brands do cheap shit they strike me as stingy - I hope they aren't cutting corners like that when they prepare food. "Arby's, where the meat fell off the back of a truck yesterday." or "Arby's, where everyone is paid below minimum wage because we're stingy bastards", yeah that seems about right. Honestly, big brands can buy their own media and ad creep creeps people out.

It's not a terrible idea, considering the campaign, I just don't think it quite works as is.

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Neo's picture

Not only is it cheap, it's not even that clever.

But then again, that's exactly what Arby's is. Cheap, and not very clever. So I guess it's on brand.

caffeinegoddess's picture


Dabitch's picture

I'll give Fletcher Martin one thing, at least they are consistent. They're so cheap they keep their own blogs on FREE blogger - with default skins, like where they show off their ad here and here on Franchisemarketingblog. Even Fletcher Martin news is on blogger. Only Fletchermartin.com is not, instead they do the mortal sin of having only one large flash page and no HTML alternative for people without the Flash 9 plugin. Not the guys I'd hire for any web work, that's fer sure.

mochazina's picture

Zing again!

That's also pretty lazy creative, that balloon could contain ANY logo and still work just as well. It's not Arby's.

brandonbarr's picture

I guess I kind of disagree. The balloon gag only works because of the meaning that the placement over the head has been given by the creative on TV. And to me, it's a quick way to grab attention and remind people of your brand. In addition, I think that the billboards that were highjacked probably benefited from it, since people are actually now LOOKING at was is a pretty drab outdoor layout.

Of course, with wind and all, I doubt everyone got the perfectly framed version we see here.

kidsleepy's picture

ideally it would've been a clear balloon with the logo, because the tv is basically the logo floating above their heads. i give them some points for trying to tie the campaign together, but at the same time its been running for a few years now--makes me wonder why they're just coming up with that idea only now, or if it took that long to sell it through.

mochazina's picture

I forgot about the TV (I guess I think the whole campaign is shit) so, it's a little less bad with that in mind. Still, you mention wind Brandon, a stick holding a small sign would have been much better but would also require an actual deal with the poster company. I think this could have been executed much better, and I dislike the hijacking. It signals cheap rather than creative. Like a bunch of street art kids were hired to do an advertising campaign armed with some promotional materials. It only serves to clutter an already cluttered landscape.