Turning a bad thing into a good thing

I love watching ads voluntarily! Said no one ever. 

Except for great ads like this one by Arby’s. I saw it for the first time yesterday, and then watched it again four times in a row just now. 

Arby’s was supposed to feature Pepsi in two commercials per year, but forgot to do the second commercial. Pepsi was about to get upset, and then a million dollar contract would have exploded. 

At this point, a normal person would have said: “Oh no. We have 2 days to make an ad that we should have started making 2 months ago. Let’s put together the best crappy thing we can build in a weekend, give it to Pepsi, and hope for the best.”

Did they do that? No. Instead of playing it safe, Arby’s owned up to Pepsi and went over-the-top in admitting their mistake by building a whole commercial just about Pepsi. 

The commercial is literally a shot of Pepsi for 30 seconds, with nothing moving, and an actor speaking. That’s it. It’s totally unexpected, which is why it gets noticed, which is why I watched it another 2 times since starting to write this post.

The brilliant part of this Arby’s ad is that it’s all about Pepsi. It gives Pepsi a ton of love - more than a normal co-sponsorship ad calls for. It’s not like “We messed up, we’ll do a normal commercial where we show 4 seconds of someone sipping Pepsi and then eating a sandwich.”

If you screw up, you should make up for it by going way above and beyond to prove that you really feel bad, and that’s what Arby’s did beautifully.

PS. How awesome is it that this guy’s voice can carry a 30 second commercial with no visual stimuli whatsoever? That’s a pretty awesome voice. And if you’re saying “it’s the script” - well, yes, that’s part of it. But imagine a normal person reading it and how boring it would have sounded.

PPS. THIS (screenshot) is how effective the Arby’s ad was. This just happened on Facebook Messenger with a friend of mine. For a customer to say “I’ve never been to [X] and now I’m considering it” is basically the holy grail of advertising.

My friend also had a brilliant idea: “They ought to have voiceover commercials like that and just show a different sandwich each time. Could even be the same voice.”

So Arby’s - go with it. This is funny. Hire Ving Rhames again to be the voice of these ads. Milk it like Old Spice milked The Man Your Man Could Smell Like campaign.

MarketingWes KaoMarketing