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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.